Nikita Khrushchev

Nikita Khrushchev

Overview
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (September 11, 1971) led the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 during part of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman
Premier of the Soviet Union
The office of Premier of the Soviet Union was synonymous with head of government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics . Twelve individuals have been premier...

 of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964. Khrushchev was responsible for the partial de-Stalinization
De-Stalinization
De-Stalinization refers to the process of eliminating the cult of personality, Stalinist political system and the Gulag labour-camp system created by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Stalin was succeeded by a collective leadership after his death in March 1953...

 of the Soviet Union, for backing the progress of the early Soviet space program
Soviet space program
The Soviet space program is the rocketry and space exploration programs conducted by the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the 1930s until its dissolution in 1991...

, and for several relatively liberal reforms in areas of domestic policy.
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Timeline

1953   Lavrentiy Beria,head of MVD, was arrested by Nikita Khrushchev and other members of the Politburo.

1953   Nikita Khrushchev is elected first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

1953   Nikita Khrushchev is appointed secretary-general of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

1956   The XX Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union begins in Moscow. On the last night of the meeting, Premier Nikita Khrushchev condemns Joseph Stalin's crimes in a secret speech.

1956   In his speech ''On the Personality Cult and its Consequences'' Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union denounces the cult of personality of Joseph Stalin.

1958   Nikita Khrushchev becomes Premier of the Soviet Union.

1959   At the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev have a "Kitchen Debate".

1959   Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the United States.

1959   Nikita Khrushchev is barred from visiting Disneyland.

1959   Iowa farmer and corn breeder Roswell Garst hosts Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.

 
Quotations

Yes, today we have genuine Russian weather. Yesterday we had Swedish weather. I can't understand why your weather is so terrible. Maybe it is because you are immediate neighbours of NATO.

At a Swedish-Soviet summit which began on March 30, 1956, in Moscow. The stenographed discussion was later published by the Swedish Government.as quoted in Raoul Wallenberg (1985) by Eric Sjöquist, p. 119 ISBN 9153650875

Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will dig you in. (We will bury you|We will bury you.)

Remark to western ambassadors during a diplomatic reception in Moscow (18 November 1956)

I am very glad to hear this, since I come from the Ukraine. From now on I can sleep peacefully. I will immediately telegraph my daughter in Kiev.

Khrushchev's reply when the Swedish prime minister Erlander assured him that Sweden had no intention of repeating the 1709 Battle of Poltava in eastern Ukraine between Russia and Sweden. From a Swedish-Soviet summit which began on March 30, 1956, in Moscow, as quoted in Raoul Wallenberg (1985) by Eric Sjöquist, p. 125 ISBN 9153650875

If Konrad Adenauer|Adenauer were here with us in the sauna, we could see for ourselves that Germany is and will remain divided but also that Germany never will rise again.

Said during a late night visit to a sauna with Finland's president Urho Kekkonen|Kekkonen in June 1957. Translated from Våldets århundrade (2001) by Max Jakobson, p. 220 ISBN 9174866389

Mr. President, call the toady of American imperialism to order.

Shoe-banging incident|Remark in the United Nations General Assembly (12 October 1960), denouncing a speech by Philippines delegate Lorenzo Sumulong

If you start throwing hedgehogs under me, I shall throw a couple of porcupines under you.

As quoted in The New York Times (7 November 1963)

Comrades! We must abolish the cult of the individual decisively, once and for all.

At the 20th Congress of the Communist Party during his secret report. (24 February 1956)

My arms are up to the elbows in blood. That is the most terrible thing that lies in my soul.

Told to Soviet playwright Nikolay Shatrov, as quoted in William Taubman, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002)
Encyclopedia
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (September 11, 1971) led the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 during part of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman
Premier of the Soviet Union
The office of Premier of the Soviet Union was synonymous with head of government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics . Twelve individuals have been premier...

 of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964. Khrushchev was responsible for the partial de-Stalinization
De-Stalinization
De-Stalinization refers to the process of eliminating the cult of personality, Stalinist political system and the Gulag labour-camp system created by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Stalin was succeeded by a collective leadership after his death in March 1953...

 of the Soviet Union, for backing the progress of the early Soviet space program
Soviet space program
The Soviet space program is the rocketry and space exploration programs conducted by the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the 1930s until its dissolution in 1991...

, and for several relatively liberal reforms in areas of domestic policy. Khrushchev's party colleagues removed him from power in 1964, replacing him with Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 as First Secretary and Alexei Kosygin as Premier.

Khrushchev was born in the Russian village of Kalinovka in 1894, close to the present-day border between Russia and Ukraine. He was employed as a metalworker in his youth, and during the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 was a political commissar
Political commissar
The political commissar is the supervisory political officer responsible for the political education and organisation, and loyalty to the government of the military...

. With the help of Lazar Kaganovich
Lazar Kaganovich
Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich was a Soviet politician and administrator and one of the main associates of Joseph Stalin.-Early life:Kaganovich was born in 1893 to Jewish parents in the village of Kabany, Radomyshl uyezd, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire...

, he worked his way up the Soviet hierarchy. He supported Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's purge
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

s, and approved thousands of arrests. In 1939, Stalin sent him to govern Ukraine, and he continued the purges there. During what was known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War
Great Patriotic War (term)
The term Great Patriotic War , Velíkaya Otéchestvennaya voyná,) is used in Russia and some other states of the former Soviet Union to describe the portion of World War II from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945, against Nazi Germany and its allies in the many fronts of Soviet-German war.-History:The term...

 (Eastern Front of World War II), Khrushchev was again a commissar, serving as an intermediary between Stalin and his generals. Khrushchev was present at the bloody defense of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

, a fact he took great pride in throughout his life. After the war, he returned to Ukraine before being recalled to Moscow as one of Stalin's close advisers.

In the power struggle triggered by Stalin's death in 1953, Khrushchev, after several years, emerged victorious. On February 25, 1956, at the Twentieth Party Congress, he delivered the "Secret Speech
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences was a report, critical of Joseph Stalin, made to the Twentieth Party Congress on February 25, 1956 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It is more commonly known as the Secret Speech or the Khrushchev Report...

", denouncing Stalin's purges and ushering in a less repressive era
Khrushchev Thaw
The Khrushchev Thaw refers to the period from the mid 1950s to the early 1960s, when repression and censorship in the Soviet Union were partially reversed and millions of Soviet political prisoners were released from Gulag labor camps, due to Nikita Khrushchev's policies of de-Stalinization and...

 in the Soviet Union. His domestic policies, aimed at bettering the lives of ordinary citizens, were often ineffective, especially in the area of agriculture. Hoping eventually to rely on missiles for national defense, Khrushchev ordered major cuts in conventional forces. Despite the cuts, Khrushchev's rule saw the tensest years of the Cold War, culminating in the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

.

Some of Khrushchev's policies were seen as erratic, particularly by his emerging rivals, who quietly rose in strength and deposed him in October 1964. However, he did not suffer the deadly fate of some previous losers of Soviet power struggles, and was pensioned off with an apartment in Moscow and a dacha
Dacha
Dacha is a Russian word for seasonal or year-round second homes often located in the exurbs of Soviet and post-Soviet cities. Cottages or shacks serving as family's main or only home are not considered dachas, although many purpose-built dachas are recently being converted for year-round residence...

in the countryside. His lengthy memoirs were smuggled to the West and published in part in 1970. Khrushchev died in 1971 of heart disease.

Early years


Khrushchev was born April 15, 1894, in Kalinovka, a village in what is now Russia's Kursk Oblast
Kursk Oblast
Kursk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Kursk.-Geography:The oblast occupies the southern slopes of the middle-Russian plateau, and its average elevation is from 177 to 225 meters . The surface is hilly, and intersected by ravines...

, near the present Ukrainian border. His parents, Sergei Khrushchev and Ksenia Khrushcheva, were poor peasants of Russian origin and had a daughter two years Nikita's junior, Irina. Sergei Khrushchev was employed in a number of positions in the Donbas
Donets Basin
Donbas or Donbass , full rarely-used name Donets Basin , is a historical, economic and cultural region of eastern Ukraine. Originally a coal mining area, it has become a heavily industrialised territory suffering from urban decay and industrial pollution.-Geography:Donbas covers three...

 area of far eastern Ukraine, working as a railwayman, as a miner, and laboring in a brick factory. Wages were much higher in the Donbas than in the Kursk region, and Sergei Khrushchev generally left his family in Kalinovka, returning there when he had enough money.

Kalinovka was a peasant village; Khrushchev's teacher, Lydia Shevchenko later stated that she had never seen a village as poor as Kalinovka had been. Nikita worked as a herdsboy
Herder
A herder is a worker who lives a possibly semi-nomadic life, caring for various domestic animals, in places where these animals wander pasture lands....

 from an early age. He was schooled for a total of four years, part in the village parochial school and part under Shevchenko's tutelage in Kalinovka's state school. According to Khrushchev in his memoirs, Shevchenko was a freethinker who upset the villagers by not attending church, and when her brother visited, he gave the boy books which had been banned by the Imperial Government. She urged Nikita to seek further education, but family finances did not permit this.

In 1908, Sergei Khrushchev moved to the Donbas city of Yuzovka
Donetsk
Donetsk , is a large city in eastern Ukraine on the Kalmius river. Administratively, it is a center of Donetsk Oblast, while historically, it is the unofficial capital and largest city of the economic and cultural Donets Basin region...

; fourteen-year-old Nikita followed later that year, while Ksenia Khrushcheva and her daughter came after. Yuzovka, which was renamed Stalino in 1924 and Donetsk
Donetsk
Donetsk , is a large city in eastern Ukraine on the Kalmius river. Administratively, it is a center of Donetsk Oblast, while historically, it is the unofficial capital and largest city of the economic and cultural Donets Basin region...

 in 1961, was at the heart of one of the most industrialized areas of the Russian Empire. After the boy worked briefly in other fields, Nikita's parents found him a place as a metal fitter's apprentice. Upon completing that apprenticeship, the teenage Khrushchev was hired by a factory. He lost that job when he collected money for the families of the victims of the Lena Goldfields Massacre, and was hired to mend underground equipment by a mine in nearby Rutchenkovo, where he helped distribute copies and organize public readings of Pravda
Pravda
Pravda was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991....

. He later stated that he considered emigrating to the United States for better wages, but did not do so.

When World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 broke out in 1914, Khrushchev, as a skilled metal worker, was exempt from conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

. Employed by a workshop which serviced ten mines, Khrushchev was involved in several strikes demanding higher pay, better working conditions, and an end to the war. In 1914, he married Yefrosinia Pisareva, daughter of the elevator operator at the Rutchenkovo mine. In 1915, they had a daughter, Yulia, and in 1917, a son, Leonid.

After the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 in 1917, the new Russian Provisional Government
Russian Provisional Government
The Russian Provisional Government was the short-lived administrative body which sought to govern Russia immediately following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II . On September 14, the State Duma of the Russian Empire was officially dissolved by the newly created Directorate, and the country was...

 in Petrograd had little influence over Ukraine. Khrushchev was elected to the worker's council (or soviet) in Rutchenkovo, and in May he became its chairman. He did not join the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

s until 1918, a year in which the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

, between the Bolsheviks and a coalition of opponents known as the White Army
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

, began in earnest. His biographer, William Taubman
William Taubman
William Chase Taubman is an American political scientist. His biography of Nikita Khrushchev won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2004 and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography in 2003....

, suggests that Khrushchev's delay in affiliating himself with the Bolsheviks was because he felt closer to the Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

s who prioritized economic progress, whereas the Bolsheviks sought political power. In his memoirs, Khrushchev indicated that he waited because there were many groups, and it was difficult to keep them all straight.

In March 1918, as the Bolshevik government concluded a separate peace
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

 with the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

, the Germans occupied the Donbas and Khrushchev fled to Kalinovka. In late 1918 or early 1919 he was mobilized into the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 as a political commissar
Political commissar
The political commissar is the supervisory political officer responsible for the political education and organisation, and loyalty to the government of the military...

. The post of political commissar had recently been introduced as the Bolsheviks came to rely less on worker activists and more on military recruits; its functions included indoctrination of recruits in the tenets of Bolshevism, and promoting troop morale and battle readiness. Beginning as commissar to a construction platoon, Khrushchev rose to become commissar to a construction battalion and was sent from the front for a two-month political course. The young commissar came under fire many times, though many of the war stories he would tell in later life dealt more with his (and his troops') cultural awkwardness, rather than with combat. In 1921, the civil war
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 ended, and Khrushchev was demobilized and assigned as commissar to a labor brigade in the Donbas, where he and his men lived in poor conditions.

The wars had caused widespread devastation and famine, and one of the victims of the hunger and disease was Khrushchev's wife, Yefrosinia, who died of typhus
Typhus
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters...

 in Kalinovka while Khrushchev was in the army. The commissar returned for the funeral and, loyal to his Bolshevik principles
Opium of the People
"Religion is the opium of the people" is one of the most frequently paraphrased statements of Karl Marx. It was translated from the German original, "Die Religion .....

, refused to allow his wife's coffin to enter the local church. With the only way into the churchyard through the church, he had the coffin lifted and passed over the fence into the burial ground, shocking the village.

Donbas years


Through the intervention of a friend, Khrushchev was assigned in 1921 as assistant director for political affairs for the Rutchenkovo mine in the Donbas region, where he had previously worked. There were as yet few Bolsheviks in the area. At that time, the movement was split by Lenin's New Economic Policy
New Economic Policy
The New Economic Policy was an economic policy proposed by Vladimir Lenin, who called it state capitalism. Allowing some private ventures, the NEP allowed small animal businesses or smoke shops, for instance, to reopen for private profit while the state continued to control banks, foreign trade,...

, which allowed for some measure of private enterprise and was seen as an ideological retreat by some Bolsheviks. While Khrushchev's responsibility lay in political affairs, he involved himself in the practicalities of resuming full production at the mine after the chaos of the war years. He helped restart the machines (key parts and papers had been removed by the pre-Soviet mineowners) and he wore his old mine outfit for inspection tours.

Khrushchev was highly successful at the Rutchenkovo mine, and in mid-1922 he was offered the directorship of the nearby Pastukhov mine. However, he refused the offer, seeking to be assigned to the newly established technical college
Donetsk National Technical University
Donetsk National Technical University is the biggest and oldest higher education establishment in Donbas, founded in 1921. It is located in Donetsk, Ukraine. In its early years, it was attended by Nikita Khrushchev.- External links :* ,...

 (tekhnikum) in Yuzovka, though his superiors were reluctant to let him go. As he had only four years of formal schooling, he applied to the training program (rabfak) attached to the tekhnikum that was designed to bring undereducated students to high-school level, a prerequisite for entry into the tekhnikum. While enrolled in the rabfak, Khrushchev continued his work at the Rutchenkovo mine. One of his teachers later described him as a poor student. He was more successful in advancing in the Communist Party
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

; soon after his admission to the rabfak in August 1922, he was appointed party secretary of the entire tekhnikum, and became a member of the bureau – the governing council – of the party committee for the town of Yuzovka (renamed Stalino in 1924). He briefly joined supporters of Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

 against those of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 over the question of party democracy. All of these activities left him with little time for his schoolwork, and while he later claimed to have finished his rabfak studies, it is unclear whether this was true.

In 1922, Khrushchev met and married his second wife, Marusia, whose maiden name is unknown. The two soon separated, though Khrushchev helped Marusia in later years, especially when Marusia's daughter by a previous relationship suffered a fatal illness. Soon after the abortive marriage, Khrushchev met Nina Petrovna Kukharchuk, a well-educated Party organizer and daughter of well-to-do Ukrainian peasants. The two lived together as husband and wife for the rest of Khrushchev's life, though they did not register their marriage until 1965. They had two children together: son Sergei
Sergei Khrushchev
Sergei Nikitich Khrushchev , son of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, now resides in the United States where he is a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.-Career:...

 was born in 1935 and daughter Elena in 1937.

In mid-1925, Khrushchev was appointed Party secretary of the Petrovo-Marinsky raikom, or district, near Stalino. The raikom was about 400 square miles (1,036 km²) in area, and Khrushchev was constantly on the move throughout his domain, taking an interest in even minor matters. In late 1925, Khrushchev was elected a non-voting delegate to the 14th Congress of the USSR Communist Party
14th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (b)
The 14th Congress of the Russian Communist Party was held during 18-31 December 1925 in Moscow. This congress was marked by the struggle between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky for control of the Russian Communist Party ....

 in Moscow.

Kaganovich protégé


Khrushchev met Lazar Kaganovich
Lazar Kaganovich
Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich was a Soviet politician and administrator and one of the main associates of Joseph Stalin.-Early life:Kaganovich was born in 1893 to Jewish parents in the village of Kabany, Radomyshl uyezd, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire...

 as early as 1917. In 1925, Kaganovich became Party head in Ukraine and Khrushchev, falling under his patronage, was rapidly promoted. He was appointed second in command of the Stalino party apparatus in late 1926. Within nine months his superior, Konstantin Moiseyenko, was ousted, which, according to Taubman, was due to Khrushchev's instigation. Kaganovich transferred Khrushchev to Kharkov, then the capital of Ukraine, as head of the Organizational Department of the Ukrainian Party's Central Committee. In 1928, Khrushchev was transferred to Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, where he served as second-in-command of the Party organization there.

In 1929, Khrushchev again sought to further his education, following Kaganovich (now in the Kremlin
Kremlin
A kremlin , same root as in kremen is a major fortified central complex found in historic Russian cities. This word is often used to refer to the best-known one, the Moscow Kremlin, or metonymically to the government that is based there...

 as a close associate of Stalin) to Moscow and enrolling in the Stalin Industrial Academy
Industrial Academy (Moscow)
The Industrial Academy was an educational institution operating in Moscow from 1925 to 1941; it also had branches in Leningrad and Sverdlovsk ....

. Khrushchev never completed his studies there, but his career in the Party flourished. When the school's Party cell elected a number of rightists to an upcoming district Party conference, the cell was attacked in Pravda
Pravda
Pravda was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991....

. Khrushchev emerged victorious in the ensuing power struggle, becoming Party secretary of the school, arranging for the delegates to be withdrawn, and afterward purging the cell of the rightists. Khrushchev rose rapidly through the Party ranks, first becoming Party leader for the Bauman district, site of the Academy, before taking the same position in the Krasnopresnensky district, the capital's largest and most important. By 1932, Khrushchev had become second in command, behind Kaganovich, of the Moscow city Party organization, and in 1934, he became Party leader for the city and a member of the Party's Central Committee
Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , abbreviated in Russian as ЦК, "Tse-ka", earlier was also called as the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party ...

. Khrushchev attributed his rapid rise to his acquaintance with fellow Academy student Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Stalin's wife. In his memoirs, Khrushchev stated that Alliluyeva spoke well of him to her husband. His biographer, William Tompson, downplays the possibility, stating that Khrushchev was too low in the Party hierarchy to enjoy Stalin's patronage, and that if influence was brought to bear on Khrushchev's career at this stage, it was by Kaganovich.

While head of the Moscow city organization, Khrushchev superintended construction of the Moscow Metro
Moscow Metro
The Moscow Metro is a rapid transit system serving Moscow and the neighbouring town of Krasnogorsk. Opened in 1935 with one line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union. As of 2011, the Moscow Metro has 182 stations and its route length is . The system is...

, a highly expensive undertaking, with Kaganovich in overall charge. Faced with an already-announced opening date of November 7, 1934, Khrushchev took considerable risks in the construction and spent much of his time down in the tunnels. When the inevitable accidents did occur, they were depicted as heroic sacrifices in a great cause. The Metro did not open until May 1, 1935, but Khrushchev received the Order of Lenin
Order of Lenin
The Order of Lenin , named after the leader of the Russian October Revolution, was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union...

 for his role in its construction. Later that year, he was selected as Party leader for Moscow oblast
Oblast
Oblast is a type of administrative division in Slavic countries, including some countries of the former Soviet Union. The word "oblast" is a loanword in English, but it is nevertheless often translated as "area", "zone", "province", or "region"...

, a province with a population of 11 million.

Involvement in purges


Stalin's office records show meetings at which Khrushchev was present as early as 1932. The two increasingly built a good relationship. Khrushchev greatly admired the dictator and treasured informal meetings with him and invitations to Stalin's dacha, while Stalin felt warm affection for his young subordinate.

Beginning in 1934, Stalin began murderous purges
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

 of the Party through a series of show trial
Show trial
The term show trial is a pejorative description of a type of highly public trial in which there is a strong connotation that the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal to present the accusation and the verdict to the public as...

s. In 1936, as the trials proceeded, Khrushchev expressed his vehement support:

Everyone who rejoices in the successes achieved in our country, the victories of our party led by the great Stalin, will find only one word suitable for the mercenary, fascist dogs of the Trotskyite-Zinoviev
Grigory Zinoviev
Grigory Yevseevich Zinoviev , born Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky Apfelbaum , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician...

ite gang. That word is execution.


Khrushchev assisted in the purge of many friends and colleagues in Moscow oblast. Of 38 top Party officials in Moscow city and province, 35 were killed—the three survivors were transferred to other parts of the USSR. Of the 146 Party secretaries of cities and districts outside Moscow city in the province, only 10 survived the purges. In his memoirs, Khrushchev noted that almost everyone who worked with him was arrested. By Party protocol, Khrushchev was required to approve these arrests, and did little or nothing to save his friends and colleagues.

Party leaders were given numerical quotas of "enemies" to be turned in and arrested. In June 1937, the Politburo
Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Politburo , known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966, functioned as the central policymaking and governing body of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.-Duties and responsibilities:The...

 set a quota of 35,000 enemies to be arrested in Moscow province; 5,000 of these were to be executed. In reply, Khrushchev asked that 2,000 wealthy peasants, or kulak
Kulak
Kulaks were a category of relatively affluent peasants in the later Russian Empire, Soviet Russia, and early Soviet Union...

s
living in Moscow be killed in part fulfillment of the quota. In any event, only two weeks after receiving the Politburo order, Khrushchev was able to report to Stalin that 41,305 "criminal and kulak elements" had been arrested. Of the arrestees, according to Khrushchev, 8,500 deserved execution.

Khrushchev had no reason to think himself immune from the purges, and in 1937, confessed his own 1923 dalliance with Trotskyism to Kaganovich, who, according to Khrushchev, "blanched" (for his protégé's sins could affect his own standing) and advised him to tell Stalin. The dictator took the confession in his stride, and, after initially advising Khrushchev to keep it quiet, suggested that Khrushchev tell his tale to the Moscow party conference. Khrushchev did so, to applause, and was immediately reelected to his post. Khrushchev related in his memoirs that he was also denounced by an arrested colleague. Stalin told Khrushchev of the accusation personally, looking him in the eye and awaiting his response. Khrushchev speculated in his memoirs that had Stalin doubted his reaction, he would have been categorized as an enemy of the people
Enemy of the people
The term enemy of the people is a fluid designation of political or class opponents of the group using the term. The term implies that the "enemies" in question are acting against society as a whole. It is similar to the notion of "enemy of the state". The term originated in Roman times as ,...

 then and there. Nonetheless, Khrushchev became a candidate member of the Politburo in January 1938 and a full member in March 1939.

In late 1937, Stalin appointed Khrushchev as head of the Communist Party in Ukraine, and Khrushchev duly left Moscow for Kiev, again the Ukrainian capital, in January 1938. Ukraine had been the site of extensive purges, with the murdered including professors in Stalino whom Khrushchev greatly respected. The high ranks of the Party were not immune; the Central Committee of Ukraine was so decimated that it could not convene a quorum. After Khrushchev's arrival, the pace of arrests accelerated. All but one member of the Ukrainian Politburo Organizational Bureau, and Secretariat were arrested. Almost all government officials and Red Army commanders were replaced. During the first few months after Khrushchev's arrival, almost everyone arrested received the death penalty.

Biographer William Taubman suggests that, since Khrushchev was again unsuccessfully denounced while in Kiev, he must have known that some of the denunciations were not true and that innocent people were suffering. In 1939, Khrushchev addressed the Fourteenth Ukrainian Party Congress, saying "Comrades, we must unmask and relentlessly destroy all enemies of the people. But we must not allow a single honest Bolshevik to be harmed. We must conduct a struggle against slanderers."

Occupation of Polish territory


When Soviet troops, pursuant to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

, invaded the eastern portion of Poland
Soviet invasion of Poland
Soviet invasion of Poland can refer to:* the second phase of the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 when Soviet armies marched on Warsaw, Poland* Soviet invasion of Poland of 1939 when Soviet Union allied with Nazi Germany attacked Second Polish Republic...

 on September 17, 1939, Khrushchev accompanied the troops at Stalin's direction. A large number of ethnically Ukrainians lived in the invaded area much of which today forms the western portion of Ukraine. Many inhabitants therefore initially welcomed the invasion, though they hoped that they would eventually become independent. Khrushchev's role was to ensure that the occupied areas voted for union with the USSR. Through a combination of propaganda, deception as to what was being voted for, and outright fraud, the Soviets ensured that their new territories would elect assemblies which would unanimously petition for union with the USSR. When the new assemblies did so, their petitions were granted by the USSR Supreme Soviet, and Western Ukraine became a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) on November 1, 1939. Clumsy actions by the Soviets, such as staffing Western Ukrainian organizations with Eastern Ukrainians, and giving confiscated land to collective farms (kolkhozes) rather than to peasants soon alienated Western Ukrainians, despite Khrushchev's efforts to achieve unity.

War against Germany


When the Germans invaded the USSR
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, in June 1941, Khrushchev was still at his post in Kiev. Stalin appointed him a political commissar, and Khrushchev served on a number of fronts as an intermediary between the local military commanders and the political rulers in Moscow. Stalin used Khrushchev to keep commanders on a tight leash, while the commanders sought to have him influence Stalin. As the Germans advanced, Khrushchev worked with the military in an attempt to defend and save the city. Handicapped by orders from Stalin that under no circumstances should the city be abandoned, the Red Army was soon encircled by the Germans
Battle of Kiev (1941)
The Battle of Kiev was the German name for the operation that resulted in a very large encirclement of Soviet troops in the vicinity of Kiev during World War II. It is considered the largest encirclement of troops in history. The operation ran from 23 August – 26 September 1941 as part of Operation...

. While the Germans stated they took 655,000 prisoners, according to the Soviets, 150,541 men out of 677,085 escaped the trap. Primary sources differ on Khrushchev's involvement at this point. According to Marshal Georgi Zhukov, writing some years after Khrushchev fired and disgraced him in 1957, Khrushchev persuaded Stalin not to evacuate troops from Kiev. However, Khrushchev noted in his memoirs that he and Marshal Semyon Budyonny
Semyon Budyonny
Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny , sometimes transliterated as Budennyj, Budyonnyy, Budennii, Budenny, Budyoni, Budyenny, or Budenny, was a Soviet cavalryman, military commander, politician and a close ally of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.-Early life:...

 proposed redeploying Soviet forces to avoid the encirclement until Marshal Semyon Timoshenko
Semyon Timoshenko
Semyon Konstantinovich Timoshenko was a Soviet military commander and senior professional officer of the Red Army at the beginning of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.-Early life:...

 arrived from Moscow with orders for the troops to hold their positions. Early Khrushchev biographer Mark Frankland suggested that Khrushchev's faith in his leader was first shaken by the Red Army's setbacks. Khrushchev stated in his memoirs,

But let me return to the enemy breakthrough in the Kiev area, the encirclement of our group, and the destruction of the 37th Army. Later, the Fifth Army also perished ... All of this was senseless, and from the military point of view, a display of ignorance, incompetence, and illiteracy. ... There you have the result of not taking a step backward. We were unable to save these troops because we didn't withdraw them, and as a result we simply lost them. ... And yet it was possible to allow this not to happen.


In 1942, Khrushchev was on the Southwest Front, and he and Timoshenko proposed a massive counteroffensive in the Kharkov area. Stalin approved only part of the plan, but 640,000 Red Army soldiers would still become involved in the offensive. The Germans, however, had deduced that the Soviets were likely to attack at Kharkov
Second Battle of Kharkov
The Second Battle of Kharkov, so named by Wilhelm Keitel, was an Axis counter-offensive against the Red Army Izium bridgehead offensive conducted from 12 May to 28 May 1942, on the Eastern Front during World War II. Its objective was to eliminate the Izium bridgehead over Seversky Donets, or the...

, and set a trap. Beginning on May 12, 1942, the Soviet offensive initially appeared successful, but within five days the Germans had driven deep into the Soviet flanks, and the Red Army troops were in danger of being cut off. Stalin refused to halt the offensive, and the Red Army divisions were soon encircled by the Germans. The USSR lost about 267,000 soldiers, including more than 200,000 men captured, and Stalin demoted Timoshenko and recalled Khrushchev to Moscow. While Stalin hinted at arresting and executing Khrushchev, he allowed the commissar to return to the front by sending him to Stalingrad.
Khrushchev reached the Stalingrad Front
Stalingrad Front
The Stalingrad Front was a front of the Soviet Union's Red Army during the Second World War. The name indicated the primary geographical region in which the Front first fought, based on the city of Stalingrad on the Volga River....

 in August 1942, soon after the start of the battle for the city
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

. His role in the Stalingrad defense was not major—General Vasily Chuikov
Vasily Chuikov
Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov was a Russian lieutenant general in the Red Army during World War II, twice Hero of the Soviet Union , who after the war became a Marshal of the Soviet Union.-Early life and career:Born into a peasant family in the village of Serebryanye Prudy, he joined the Red Army during...

, who led the city's defense, mentions Khrushchev only briefly in a memoir published while Khrushchev was premier—but to the end of his life, he was proud of his role. Though he visited Stalin in Moscow on occasion, he remained in Stalingrad for much of the battle, and was nearly killed at least once. He proposed a counterattack, only to find that Zhukov and other generals had already planned Operation Uranus
Operation Uranus
Operation Uranus was the codename of the Soviet strategic operation in World War II which led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army, the Third and Fourth Romanian armies, and portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army. The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, and was...

, a plan to break out from Soviet positions and encircle and destroy the Germans; it was being kept secret. Before Uranus was launched, Khrushchev spent much time checking on troop readiness and morale, interrogating Nazi prisoners, and recruiting some for propaganda reasons.

Soon after Stalingrad, Khrushchev met with personal tragedy, as his son Leonid, a fighter pilot, was apparently shot down and killed in action on March 11, 1943. The circumstances of Leonid's death remain obscure and controversial, as none of his fellow fliers stated that they witnessed him being shot down, nor was his plane found or body recovered. As a result, Leonid's fate has been the subject of considerable speculation. One theory has Leonid surviving the crash and collaborating with the Germans, and when he was recaptured by the Soviets, Stalin ordering him shot despite Nikita Khrushchev pleading for his life. This supposed killing is used to explain why Khrushchev later denounced Stalin in the Secret Speech. While there is no supporting evidence for this account in Soviet files, some historians allege that Leonid Khrushchev's file was tampered with after the war. In later years, Leonid Khrushchev's wingmate stated that he saw his plane disintegrate, but did not report it. Khrushchev biographer Taubman speculates that this omission was most likely to avoid the possibility of being seen as complicit in the death of the son of a Politburo member. In mid-1943, Leonid's wife, Liuba Khrushcheva, was arrested on accusations of spying and sentenced to five years in a labor camp, and her son (by another relationship), Tolya, was placed in a series of orphanages. Leonid's daughter, Yulia, was raised by Nikita Khrushchev and his wife.

After Uranus forced the Germans into retreat, Khrushchev served in other fronts of the war. He was attached to Soviet troops at the Battle of Kursk
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

, in July 1943, which turned back the last major German offensive on Soviet soil. Khrushchev related that he interrogated an SS defector, learning that the Germans intended an attack—a claim dismissed by his biographer, Taubman, as "almost certainly exaggerated". He accompanied Soviet troops as they took Kiev in November 1943, entering the shattered city as Soviet forces drove out German troops. As Soviet forces met with greater success, driving the Nazis westwards towards Germany, Nikita Khrushchev became increasingly involved in reconstruction work in Ukraine. He was appointed Premier of the Ukrainian SSR in addition to his earlier party post, one of the rare instances in which the Ukrainian party and civil leader posts were held by one person.

According to Khrushchev biographer William Tompson, it is difficult to assess Khrushchev's war record, since he most often acted as part of a military council, and it is not possible to know the extent to which he influenced decisions, rather than signing off on the orders of military officers. However, Tompson points to the fact that the few mentions of Khrushchev in military memoirs published during the Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 era were generally favorable, at a time when it was "barely possible to mention Khrushchev in print in any context". Tompson suggests that these favorable mentions indicate that military officers held Khrushchev in high regard.

Return to Ukraine


Almost all of Ukraine had been occupied by the Germans, and Khrushchev returned to his domain in late 1943 to find devastation. Ukraine's industry had been destroyed, and agriculture faced critical shortages. Even though millions of Ukrainians had been taken to Germany as workers or prisoners of war, there was insufficient housing for those who remained. One of every six Ukrainians was killed in World War II.

Khrushchev sought to reconstruct Ukraine, but also desired to complete the interrupted work of imposing the Soviet system on it, though he hoped that the purges of the 1930s would not recur. As Ukraine was recovered, conscription was imposed, and 750,000 men aged between nineteen and fifty were given minimal military training and sent to join the Red Army. Other Ukrainians joined partisan forces, seeking an independent Ukraine. Khrushchev rushed from district to district through Ukraine, urging the depleted labor force to greater efforts. He made a short visit to his birthplace of Kalinovka, finding a starving population, with only a third of the men who had joined the Red Army having returned. Khrushchev did what he could to assist his hometown. Despite Khrushchev's efforts, in 1945, Ukrainian industry was at only a quarter of pre-war levels, and the harvest actually dropped from that of 1944, when the entire territory of Ukraine had not yet been retaken.

In an effort to increase agricultural production, the kolkhoz
Kolkhoz
A kolkhoz , plural kolkhozy, was a form of collective farming in the Soviet Union that existed along with state farms . The word is a contraction of коллекти́вное хозя́йство, or "collective farm", while sovkhoz is a contraction of советское хозяйство...

es
(collective farms) were empowered to expel residents who were not pulling their weight. Kolkhoz leaders used this as an excuse to expel their personal enemies, invalids, and the elderly, and nearly 12,000 people were sent to the eastern parts of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev viewed this policy as very effective, and recommended its adoption elsewhere to Stalin. He also worked to impose collectivization on Western Ukraine. While Khrushchev hoped to accomplish this by 1947, lack of resources and armed resistance by partisans slowed the process. The partisans, many of whom fought as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA), were gradually defeated, as Soviet police and military reported killing 110,825 "bandits" and capturing a quarter million more between 1944 and 1946. About 600,000 Western Ukrainians were arrested between 1944 and 1952, with one-third executed and the remainder imprisoned or exiled to the east.

The war years of 1944 and 1945 had seen poor harvests, and 1946 saw intense drought strike Ukraine and Western Russia. Despite this, collective and state farms were required to turn over 52% of the harvest to the government. The Soviet government sought to collect as much grain as possible in order to supply communist allies in Eastern Europe. Khrushchev set the quotas at a high level, leading Stalin to expect an unrealistically large quantity of grain from Ukraine. Food was rationed—but non-agricultural rural workers throughout the USSR were given no ration cards. The inevitable starvation was largely confined to remote rural regions, and was little noticed outside the USSR. Khrushchev, realizing the desperate situation in late 1946, repeatedly appealed to Stalin for aid, to be met with anger and resistance on the part of the leader. When letters to Stalin had no effect, Khrushchev flew to Moscow and made his case in person. Stalin finally gave Ukraine limited food aid, and money to set up free soup kitchen
Soup kitchen
A soup kitchen, a bread line, or a meal center is a place where food is offered to the hungry for free or at a reasonably low price. Frequently located in lower-income neighborhoods, they are often staffed by volunteer organizations, such as church groups or community groups...

s. However, Khrushchev's political standing had been damaged, and in February 1947, Stalin suggested that Lazar Kaganovich be sent to Ukraine to "help" Khrushchev. The following month, the Ukrainian Central Committee removed Khrushchev as party leader in favor of Kaganovich, while retaining him as premier.

Soon after Kaganovich arrived in Kiev, Khrushchev fell ill, and was barely seen until September 1947. In his memoirs, Khrushchev indicates he had pneumonia; some biographers have theorized that Khrushchev's illness was entirely political, out of fear that his loss of position was the first step towards downfall and demise. However, Khrushchev's children remembered their father as having been seriously ill. Once Khrushchev was able to get out of bed, he and his family took their first vacation since before the war, to a beachfront resort in Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

. Khrushchev, though, soon broke the beach routine with duck-hunting trips, and a visit to newly Soviet Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea...

, where he toured factories and quarries. By the end of 1947, Kaganovich had been recalled to Moscow and the recovered Khrushchev had been restored to the First Secretaryship. He then resigned the Ukrainian premiership in favor of Demyan Korotchenko
Demyan Korotchenko
Demian Serhiyovych Korotchenko was a Ukrainian and Soviet politician, who twice served as the head of government of Ukrainian SSR .-Biography:...

, Khrushchev's protégé.

Khrushchev's final years in Ukraine were generally peaceful, with industry recovering, Soviet forces overcoming the partisans, and 1947 and 1948 seeing better-than-expected harvests. Collectivization advanced in Western Ukraine, and Khrushchev implemented more policies that encouraged collectivization and discouraged private farms. These sometimes backfired, however: a tax on private livestock holdings led to peasants slaughtering their stock. With the idea of eliminating differences in attitude between town and countryside and transforming the peasantry into a "rural proletariat", Khrushchev conceived the idea of the "agro-town". Rather than agricultural workers living in villages close to farms, they would live further away in larger towns which would offer municipal services such as utilities and libraries, which were not present in villages. He completed only one such town before his December 1949 return to Moscow; he dedicated it to Stalin as a 70th birthday present.

In his memoirs, Khrushchev spoke highly of Ukraine, where he governed for over a decade:

I'll say that the Ukrainian people treated me well. I recall warmly the years I spent there. This was a period full of responsibilities, but pleasant because it brought satisfaction ... But far be it from me to inflate my significance. The entire Ukrainian people was exerting great efforts ... I attribute Ukraine's successes to the Ukrainian people as a whole. I won't elaborate further on this theme, but in principle it's very easy to demonstrate. I'm Russian myself, and I don't want to offend the Russians.

Stalin's final years


Khrushchev attributed his recall to Moscow to mental disorder on the part of Stalin, who feared conspiracies in Moscow matching those which the ruler believed to have occurred in the fabricated Leningrad case, in which many of that city's Party officials had been falsely accused of treason. Khrushchev again served as head of the Party in Moscow city and province. Khrushchev biographer Taubman suggests that Stalin most likely recalled Khrushchev to Moscow to balance the influence of Georgy Malenkov
Georgy Malenkov
Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov was a Soviet politician, Communist Party leader and close collaborator of Joseph Stalin. After Stalin's death, he became Premier of the Soviet Union and was in 1953 briefly considered the most powerful Soviet politician before being overshadowed by Nikita...

 and security chief Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria was a Georgian Soviet politician and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus under Joseph Stalin during World War II, and Deputy Premier in the postwar years ....

, who were widely seen as Stalin's heirs.

At this time, the aging dictator rarely called Politburo meetings. Instead, much of the high-level work of government took place at dinners hosted by Stalin. These sessions, which Beria, Malenkov, Khrushchev, Kaganovich, Kliment Voroshilov
Kliment Voroshilov
Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov , popularly known as Klim Voroshilov was a Soviet military officer, politician, and statesman...

, Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

, and Nikolai Bulganin
Nikolai Bulganin
Nikolai Alexandrovich Bulganin was a prominent Soviet politician, who served as Minister of Defense and Premier of the Soviet Union . The Bulganin beard is named after him.-Early career:...

, who comprised Stalin's inner circle, attended, began with showings of cowboy movies favored by Stalin. Stolen from the West, they lacked subtitles. The dictator had the meal served at around 1 a.m., and insisted that his subordinates stay with him and drink until dawn. On one occasion, Stalin had Khrushchev, then aged almost sixty, dance a traditional Ukrainian dance
Hopak
Hopak , also referred to as Gopak or Cossack dance, is a Ukrainian dance. It is performed most often as a solitary concert dance by amateur and professional Ukrainian dance ensembles, as well as other performers of folk dances...

. Khrushchev did so, later stating, "When Stalin says dance, a wise man dances." Khrushchev attempted to nap at lunch so that he would not fall asleep in the dictator's presence; he noted in his memoirs, "Things went badly for those who dozed off at Stalin's table."

In 1950, Khrushchev began a large-scale housing program for Moscow. A large part of the housing was in the form of five- or six-story apartment buildings, which became ubiquitous throughout the Soviet Union; many remain in use today. Khrushchev had prefabricated reinforced concrete used, greatly speeding up construction. These structures were completed at triple the construction rate of Moscow housing from 1946–50, lacked elevators or balconies, and were nicknamed Khrushcheby by the public, a pun on the Russian word for slums, trushcheby. Almost 60,000,000 residents of the former Soviet republics still live in these buildings.

In his new positions, Khrushchev continued his kolkhoz consolidation scheme, decreasing the number of collective farms in Moscow province by about 70%. This resulted in farms which were too large for one chairman to manage effectively. Khrushchev also sought to implement his agro-town proposal, but when his lengthy speech on the subject was published in Pravda
Pravda
Pravda was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991....

in March 1951, Stalin disapproved of it. The periodical quickly published a note stating that Khrushchev's speech was merely a proposal, not policy. In April, the Politburo disavowed the agro-town proposal. Khrushchev feared that Stalin would remove him from office, but the leader mocked Khrushchev, then allowed the episode to pass.

On March 1, 1953, Stalin suffered a massive stroke, apparently on rising after sleep. Stalin had left orders not to be disturbed, and it was twelve hours until his condition was discovered. Even as terrified doctors attempted treatment, Khrushchev and his colleagues engaged in intense discussion as to the new government. On March 5, Stalin died. As Khrushchev and other high officials stood weeping by Stalin's bedside, Beria raced from the room, shouting for his car.

Khrushchev reflected on Stalin in his memoirs:

Stalin called everyone who didn't agree with him an "enemy of the people." He said that they wanted to restore the old order, and for this purpose, "the enemies of the people" had linked up with the forces of reaction internationally. As a result, several hundred thousand honest people perished. Everyone lived in fear in those days. Everyone expected that at any moment there would be a knock on the door in the middle of the night and that knock on the door would prove fatal ... [P]eople not to Stalin's liking were annihilated, honest party members, irreproachable people, loyal and hard workers for our cause who had gone through the school of revolutionary struggle under Lenin's leadership. This was utter and complete arbitrariness. And now is all this to be forgiven and forgotten? Never! 

Struggle for control


On March 6, 1953, Stalin's death was announced, as was the new leadership. Malenkov was the new Chairman of the Council of Ministers, with Beria (who consolidated his hold over the security agencies), Kaganovich, Bulganin and former Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

 as first vice-chairmen. Those members of the Presidium of the Central Committee
Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Politburo , known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966, functioned as the central policymaking and governing body of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.-Duties and responsibilities:The...

 who had been recently promoted by Stalin were demoted. Khrushchev was relieved of his duties as Party head for Moscow to concentrate on unspecified duties in the Party's Central Committee. The New York Times listed Malenkov and Beria first and second among the ten-man Presidium—and Khrushchev last. On March 14, Malenkov resigned from the secretariat of the Central Committee. In September, Khrushchev was elected by the Central Committee as First Secretary of the Party.

Even before Stalin had been laid to rest, Beria launched a lengthy series of reforms which rivalled those of Khrushchev during his period of power and even those of Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 a third of a century later. Beria's proposals were designed to denigrate Stalin and pass the blame for Beria's own crimes to the late leader. One proposal, which was adopted, was an amnesty which eventually led to the freeing of over a million prisoners. Another, which was not, was to release East Germany into a united, neutral Germany in exchange for compensation from the West—a proposal considered by Khrushchev to be anti-communist. Khrushchev allied with Malenkov to block many of Beria's proposals, while the two slowly picked up support from other Presidium members. Their campaign against Beria was aided by fears that Beria was planning a military coup, and, according to Khrushchev in his memoirs, by the conviction that "Beria is getting his knives ready for us."

On June 26, 1953 Beria was arrested at a Presidium meeting, following extensive military preparations by Khrushchev and his allies. Beria was tried in secret, and executed in December 1953 with five of his close associates. The execution of Beria proved to be the last time the loser of a top-level power struggle in the USSR paid with his life.

The power struggle in the Presidium was not resolved by the elimination of Beria. Malenkov's power was in the central state apparatus, which he sought to extend through reorganizing the government, giving it additional power at the expense of the Party. He also sought public support by lowering retail prices and lowering the level of bond sales to citizens, which had long been effectively obligatory. Khrushchev, on the other hand, with his power base in the Party, sought to both strengthen the Party and his position within it. While, under the Soviet system, the Party was to be preeminent, it had been greatly drained of power by Stalin, who had given much of that power to himself and to the Politburo (later, to the Presidium). Khrushchev saw that with the Presidium in conflict, the Party and its Central Committee might again become powerful. Khrushchev carefully cultivated high Party officials, and was able to appoint supporters as local Party bosses, who then took seats on the Central Committee.

Khrushchev presented himself as a down-to-earth activist prepared to take up any challenge, contrasting with Malenkov who, though sophisticated, came across as colorless. Khrushchev arranged for the Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin , sometimes referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River , Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square and the Alexander Garden...

 grounds to be opened to the public, an act with "great public resonance". While both Malenkov and Khrushchev sought reforms to agriculture, Khrushchev's proposals were broader, and included the Virgin Lands Campaign
Virgin Lands Campaign
The Virgin Lands Campaign was an initiative by Nikita Khrushchev to open up vast tracts of unseeded steppe in the northern Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic and the Altay region of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, started in 1954....

, under which hundreds of thousands of young volunteers would settle and farm areas of Western Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 and Northern Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

. While the scheme eventually became a tremendous disaster for Soviet agriculture, it was initially successful. In addition, Khrushchev possessed incriminating information on Malenkov, taken from Beria's secret files. As Soviet prosecutors investigated the atrocities of Stalin's last years, including the Leningrad case, they came across evidence of Malenkov's involvement. Beginning in February 1954, Khrushchev replaced Malenkov in the seat of honor at Presidium meetings; in June, Malenkov ceased to head the list of Presidium members, which was thereafter organized in alphabetical order. Khrushchev's influence continued to increase, winning the allegiance of local party heads, and with his nominee heading the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

.

At a Central Committee meeting in January 1955, Malenkov was accused of involvement in atrocities, and the committee passed a resolution accusing him of involvement in the Leningrad case, and of facilitating Beria's climb to power. At a meeting of the mostly ceremonial Supreme Soviet
Supreme Soviet
The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union was the Supreme Soviet in the Soviet Union and the only one with the power to pass constitutional amendments...

 the following month, Malenkov was demoted in favor of Bulganin, to the surprise of Western observers. Malenkov remained in the Presidium as Minister of Electric Power Stations. According to Khrushchev biographer William Tompson, "Khrushchev's position as first among the members of the collective leadership
Collective leadership
Collective leadership or Collectivity of leadership , was considered an ideal form of governance in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics...

 was now beyond any reasonable doubt."

Consolidation of power; Secret Speech



After the demotion of Malenkov, Khrushchev and Molotov initially worked together well, and the longtime foreign minister even proposed that Khrushchev, not Bulganin, replace Malenkov as premier. However, Khrushchev and Molotov increasingly differed on policy. Molotov opposed the Virgin Lands policy, instead proposing heavy investment to increase yields in developed agricultural areas, which Khrushchev felt was not feasible due to a lack of resources and a lack of a sophisticated farm labor force. The two differed on foreign policy as well; soon after Khrushchev took power, he sought a peace treaty with Austria, which would allow Soviet troops then in occupation of part of the country to leave. Molotov was resistant, but Khrushchev arranged for an Austrian delegation to come to Moscow and negotiate the treaty. Although Khrushchev and other Presidium members attacked Molotov at a Central Committee meeting in mid-1955, accusing him of conducting a foreign policy which turned the world against the USSR, Molotov remained in his position.

By the end of 1955, thousands of political prisoners had returned home, and told their experiences of the gulag labor camps
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

. Continuing investigation into the abuses brought home the full breadth of Stalin's crimes to his successors. Khrushchev believed that once the stain of Stalinism was removed, the Party would inspire loyalty among the people. Beginning in October 1955, Khrushchev fought to tell the delegates to the upcoming 20th Party Congress about Stalin's crimes. Some of his colleagues, including Molotov and Malenkov, opposed the disclosure, and managed to persuade him to make his remarks in a closed session.

The 20th Party Congress opened on February 14, 1956. In his opening words in his initial address, Khrushchev denigrated Stalin by asking delegates to rise in honor of the communist leaders who had died since the last congress, whom he named, equating Stalin with the drunken Klement Gottwald
Klement Gottwald
Klement Gottwald was a Czechoslovakian Communist politician, longtime leader of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia , prime minister and president of Czechoslovakia.-Early life:...

 and the little-known Kyuichi Tokuda
Kyuichi Tokuda
was a Japanese politician and first chairman of the Japanese Communist Party from 1945 until his death in 1953.-Some of the Writing of Kyuichi Tokuda :At Revolutionary Democracy - External links :...

. In the early morning hours of February 25, Khrushchev delivered what became known as the "Secret Speech
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences was a report, critical of Joseph Stalin, made to the Twentieth Party Congress on February 25, 1956 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It is more commonly known as the Secret Speech or the Khrushchev Report...

" to a closed session of the Congress limited to Soviet delegates. In four hours, he demolished Stalin's reputation. Khrushchev noted in his memoirs that the "congress listened to me in silence. As the saying goes, you could have heard a pin drop. It was all so sudden and unexpected." Khrushchev told the delegates,

It is here that Stalin showed in a whole series of cases his intolerance, his brutality, and his abuse of power ... he often chose the path of repression and physical annihilation, not only against actual enemies, but also against individuals who had not committed any crimes against the party or the Soviet Government.


The Secret Speech, while it did not fundamentally change Soviet society, had wide-ranging effects. The speech was a factor in unrest in Poland
Poznan 1956 protests
The Poznań 1956 protests, also known as Poznań 1956 uprising or Poznań June , were the first of several massive protests of the Polish people against the communist government of the People's Republic of Poland...

 and revolution in Hungary later in 1956, and Stalin defenders led four days of rioting in his native Georgia in June, calling for Khrushchev to resign and Molotov to take over. In meetings where the Secret Speech was read, communists would make even more severe condemnations of Stalin (and of Khrushchev), and even call for multi-party elections. However, Stalin was not publicly denounced, and his portrait remained widespread through the USSR, from airports to Khrushchev's Kremlin office. Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

, then a Komsomol
Komsomol
The Communist Union of Youth , usually known as Komsomol , was the youth division of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Komsomol in its earliest form was established in urban centers in 1918. During the early years, it was a Russian organization, known as the Russian Communist Union of...

 official, recalled that though young and well-educated Soviets in his district were excited by the speech, many others decried it, either defending Stalin or seeing little point in digging up the past. Forty years later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev applauded Khrushchev for his courage in taking a huge political risk and showing himself to be "a moral man after all".

The term "Secret Speech" proved to be an utter misnomer. While the attendees at the Speech were all Soviet, Eastern European delegates were allowed to hear it the following night, read slowly to allow them to take notes. By March 5, copies were being mailed throughout the Soviet Union, marked "not for the press" rather than "top secret". An official translation appeared within a month in Poland; the Poles printed 12,000 extra copies, one of which soon reached the West. Khrushchev's son, Sergei
Sergei Khrushchev
Sergei Nikitich Khrushchev , son of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, now resides in the United States where he is a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.-Career:...

, later wrote, "[C]learly, Father tried to ensure it would reach as many ears as possible. It was soon read at Komsomol meetings; that meant another eighteen million listeners. If you include their relatives, friends, and acquaintances, you could say that the entire country became familiar with the speech ... Spring had barely begun when the speech began circulating around the world."

The anti-Khrushchev minority in the Presidium was augmented by those opposed to Khrushchev's proposals to decentralize authority over industry, which struck at the heart of Malenkov's power base. During the first half of 1957, Malenkov, Molotov, and Kaganovich worked to quietly build support to dismiss Khrushchev. At a June 18 Presidium meeting at which two Khrushchev supporters were absent, the plotters moved that Bulganin, who had joined the scheme, take the chair, and proposed other moves which would effectively demote Khrushchev and put themselves in control. Khrushchev objected on the grounds that not all Presidium members had been notified, an objection which would have been quickly dismissed had Khrushchev not held firm control over the military, through Minister of Defense Marshal Zhukov, and the security departments. Lengthy Presidium meetings took place, continuing over several days. As word leaked of the power struggle, members of the Central Committee, which Khrushchev controlled, streamed to Moscow, many flown there aboard military planes, and demanded to be admitted to the meeting. While they were not admitted, there were soon enough Central Committee members in Moscow to call an emergency Party Congress, which effectively forced the leadership to allow a session of the Central Committee. At that meeting, the three main conspirators were dubbed the Anti-Party Group
Anti-Party Group
The Anti-Party Group was a group within the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that unsuccessfully attempted to depose Nikita Khrushchev as First Secretary of the Party in May 1957. The group, named by that epithet by Khrushchev, was led by former Premiers Georgy Malenkov and...

, accused of factionalism and complicity in Stalin's crimes. The three were expelled from the Central Committee and Presidium, as was former Foreign Minister and Khrushchev client Dmitri Shepilov
Dmitri Shepilov
Dmitri Trofimovich Shepilov was a Soviet politician and Minister of Foreign Affairs who joined the abortive plot to oust Nikita Khrushchev from power in 1957.-Childhood:Dmitri Shepilov was born to a worker's family in Askhabad...

 who joined them in the plot. Molotov was sent as Ambassador to Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

; the others were sent to head industrial facilities and institutes far from Moscow.

Marshal Zhukov was rewarded for his support with full membership in the Presidium, but Khrushchev feared his popularity and power. In October, the defense minister was sent on a tour of the Balkans, as Khrushchev arranged a Presidium meeting to dismiss him. Zhukov learned what was happening, and hurried back to Moscow, only to be formally notified of his dismissal. At a Central Committee meeting several weeks later, not a word was said in Zhukov's defense. Khrushchev completed the consolidation of power by arranging for Bulganin's dismissal as premier in favor of himself (Bulganin was appointed to head the Gosbank
Gosbank
Gosbank was the central bank of the Soviet Union and the only bank whatsoever in the entire Union from the 1930s until the year 1987. Gosbank was one of the three Soviet economic authorities, the other two being "Gosplan" and "Gossnab"...

) and by establishing a USSR Defense Council, led by himself, effectively making him commander in chief. Though Khrushchev was now preeminent, he did not enjoy Stalin's absolute power.

Liberalization and the arts


After assuming power, Khrushchev allowed a modest amount of freedom in the arts. Vladimir Dudintsev
Vladimir Dudintsev
Vladimir Dimitrievich Dudintsev was a Ukrainian-born Russian writer who gained fame for his 1956 novel, Not by Bread Alone, published at the time of the Khruschev Thaw....

's Not by Bread Alone
Not by Bread Alone
Not by Bread Alone is a 1956 novel by the Soviet author Vladimir Dudintsev. The novel, published in installments in the journal Novy Mir, was a sensation in the USSR...

, about an idealistic engineer opposed by rigid bureaucrats, was allowed to be published in 1956, though Khrushchev called the novel "false at its base". In 1958, however, Khrushchev ordered a fierce attack on Boris Pasternak
Boris Pasternak
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was a Russian language poet, novelist, and literary translator. In his native Russia, Pasternak's anthology My Sister Life, is one of the most influential collections ever published in the Russian language...

 after his novel, Doctor Zhivago
Doctor Zhivago
-Original creation:*Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak, published in 1957**Yuri Andreyevich Zhivago, a fictional character and the main protagonist of the book Doctor Zhivago-Adaptations:There are several adaptations based on the Doctor Zhivago book:...

was published abroad (he was denied permission to publish it in the Soviet Union). Pravda described the novel as "low-grade reactionary hackwork", and the author was expelled from the Writer's Union. To make things worse (from Khrushchev's perspective), Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, which, under heavy pressure, he declined. Once he did so, Khrushchev ordered a halt to the attacks on Pasternak. In his memoirs, Khrushchev stated that he agonized over the novel, very nearly allowed it to be published, and later regretted not doing so. After his fall from power, Khrushchev obtained a copy of the novel and read it (he had earlier read only excerpts) and stated, "We shouldn't have banned it. I should have read it myself. There's nothing anti-Soviet in it."

Khrushchev believed that the USSR could match the West's living standards, and was not afraid to allow Soviet citizens to see Western achievements. Stalin had permitted few tourists to the Soviet Union, and had allowed few Soviets to travel. Khrushchev let Soviets travel (over 700,000 Soviet citizens travelled abroad in 1957) and allowed foreigners to visit the Soviet Union, where tourists became subjects of immense curiosity. In 1957, Khrushchev authorized the 6th World Festival of Youth and Students
6th World Festival of Youth and Students
The 6th World Festival of Youth and Students was opened on 28 July 1957, in Moscow, Soviet Union. The festival attracted 34,000 people from 130 countries. This became possible after the bold political changes initiated by Nikita Khrushchev...

 to be held in Moscow that summer. He instructed Komsomol
Komsomol
The Communist Union of Youth , usually known as Komsomol , was the youth division of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Komsomol in its earliest form was established in urban centers in 1918. During the early years, it was a Russian organization, known as the Russian Communist Union of...

 officials to "smother foreign guests in our embrace". The resulting "socialist carnival" involved over three million Moscovites, who joined with 30,000 young foreign visitors in events that ranged from discussion groups throughout the city to events at the Kremlin itself. According to historian Vladislav Zubok, the festival "shattered propagandist clichés" about Westerners by allowing Moscovites to see for themselves.

In 1962, Khrushchev, impressed by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a novel written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, first published in November 1962 in the Soviet literary magazine Novy Mir . The story is set in a Soviet labor camp in the 1950s, and describes a single day of an ordinary prisoner, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov...

, persuaded the Presidium to allow publication. That renewed thaw ended on December 1, 1962, when Khrushchev was taken to the Manezh Gallery to view an exhibit which included a number of avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 works. On seeing them, Khrushchev exploded with anger, describing the artwork as "dog shit", and proclaiming that "a donkey could smear better art with its tail".
A week later, Pravda issued a call for artistic purity. When writers and filmmakers defended the painters, Khrushchev extended his anger to them. However, despite the premier's rage, none of the artists were arrested or exiled. The Manezh Gallery exhibit remained open for some time after Khrushchev's visit, and experienced a considerable rise in attendance after the article in Pravda.

Political reform


Under Khrushchev, the special tribunals operated by security agencies were abolished. These tribunals (known as troikas), had often ignored laws and procedures. Under the reforms, no prosecution for a political crime could be brought even in the regular courts unless approved by the local Party committee. This rarely happened; there were no major political trials under Khrushchev, and at most several hundred political prosecutions overall. Instead, other sanctions were imposed on dissidents, including loss of job or university place, or expulsion from the Party. During Khrushchev's rule, forced hospitalization for the "socially dangerous" was introduced. According to author Roy Medvedev, who wrote an early analysis of Khrushchev's years in power, "political terror as an everyday method of government was replaced under Khrushchev by administrative means of repression".

In 1958, Khrushchev opened a Central Committee meeting to hundreds of Soviet officials; some were even allowed to address the meeting. For the first time, the proceedings of the Committee were made public in book form; a practice which was continued at subsequent meetings. This openness, however, actually allowed Khrushchev greater control over the Committee, since any dissenters would have to make their case in front of a large, disapproving crowd.

In 1962, Khrushchev divided oblast (province) level Party committees into two parallel structures, one for industry and one for agriculture. This was unpopular among Party apparatchik
Apparatchik
Apparatchik is a Russian colloquial term for a full-time, professional functionary of the Communist Party or government; i.e., an agent of the governmental or party "apparat" that held any position of bureaucratic or political responsibility, with the exception of the higher ranks of management...

s
, and led to confusions in the chain of command, as neither committee secretary had precedence over the other. As there were limited numbers of Central Committee seats from each oblast, the division set up the possibility of rivalry for office between factions, and, according to Medvedev, had the potential for beginning a two-party system. Khrushchev also ordered that one-third of the membership of each committee, from low-level councils to the Central Committee itself, be replaced at each election. This decree created tension between Khrushchev and the Central Committee and upset the party leaders upon whose support Khrushchev had risen to power.

Agricultural policy


Since the 1940s, Khrushchev had advocated the cultivation of corn in the Soviet Union. He established a corn institute in Ukraine and ordered thousands of acres to be planted with corn in the Virgin Lands
Virgin Lands Campaign
The Virgin Lands Campaign was an initiative by Nikita Khrushchev to open up vast tracts of unseeded steppe in the northern Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic and the Altay region of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, started in 1954....

. In February 1955, Khrushchev gave a speech in which he advocated an Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

-style corn belt in the Soviet Union, and a Soviet delegation visited the US state that summer. While their intent was to visit only small farms, the delegation chief was approached by farmer and corn salesman Roswell Garst
Roswell Garst
Roswell "Bob" Garst was an American farmer and seed company executive. He developed hybrid corn seed in 1930 that allowed greater crop yields than open-pollinated corn. He was perhaps most well known for hosting Nikita Khrushchev on his farm in Coon Rapids, Iowa, on September 23, 1959...

, who persuaded him to insist on visiting Garst's large farm
Roswell and Elizabeth Garst Farmstead Historic District
The Roswell and Elizabeth Garst Farmstead Historic District is a farm in Guthrie County, Iowa, United States, near the city of Coon Rapids. It is significant as the home of farmer and hybrid corn populizer Roswell Garst. During the 1930s and 1940s, Garst played an active role in the conversion of...

. The Iowan visited the Soviet Union in September, where he became great friends with Khrushchev, and Garst sold the USSR 5000 short tons (4,535.9 MT) of seed corn. Garst warned the Soviets to grow the corn in the southern part of the country, and to ensure there were sufficient stocks of fertilizer, insecticides, and herbicides. This, however, was not done, as Khrushchev sought to plant corn even in Siberia, and without the necessary chemicals. While Khrushchev warned against those who "would have us plant the whole planet with corn", he displayed a great passion for corn, so much so that when he visited a Latvian kolkhoz, he stated that some in his audience were probably wondering, "Will Khrushchev say something about corn or won't he?" He did, rebuking the farmers for not planting more corn. The corn experiment was not a great success, and he later wrote that overenthusiastic officials, wanting to please him, had overplanted without laying the proper groundwork, and "as a result corn was discredited as a silage
Silage
Silage is fermented, high-moisture fodder that can be fed to ruminants or used as a biofuel feedstock for anaerobic digesters. It is fermented and stored in a process called ensiling or silaging, and is usually made from grass crops, including corn , sorghum or other cereals, using the entire...

 crop—and so was I".

Khrushchev sought to abolish the Machine-Tractor Stations (MTS) which not only owned most large agricultural machines such as combines and tractors, but also provided services such as plowing, and transfer their equipment and functions to the kolkhozes and sovkhozes (state farms). After a successful test involving MTS which served one large kolkhoz each, Khrushchev ordered a gradual transition—but then ordered that the change take place with great speed. Within three months, over half of the MTS facilities had been closed, and kolkhozes were being required to buy the equipment, with no discount given for older or dilapidated machines. MTS employees, unwilling to bind themselves to kolkhozes and lose their state employee benefits and the right to change their jobs, fled to the cities, creating a shortage of skilled operators. The costs of the machinery, plus the costs of building storage sheds and fuel tanks for the equipment, impoverished many kolkhozes. Inadequate provisions were made for repair stations. Without the MTS, the market for Soviet agricultural equipment fell apart, as the kolkhozes now had neither the money nor skilled buyers to purchase new equipment.

One adviser to Khrushchev was Trofim Lysenko
Trofim Lysenko
Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was a Soviet agronomist of Ukrainian origin, who was director of Soviet biology under Joseph Stalin. Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of the hybridization theories of Russian horticulturist Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin, and adopted them into a powerful...

, who promised greatly increased production with minimal investment. Such schemes were attractive to Khrushchev, who ordered them implemented. Lysenko managed to maintain his influence under Khrushchev despite repeated failures; as each proposal failed, he advocated another. Lysenko's influence greatly retarded the development of genetic science in the Soviet Union. In 1959, Khrushchev announced a goal of overtaking the United States in production of milk, meat, and butter. Local officials, with Khrushchev's encouragement, made unrealistic pledges of production. These goals were met by forcing farmers to slaughter their breeding herds and by purchasing meat at state stores, then reselling it back to the government, artificially increasing recorded production.

In June 1962, food prices were raised, particularly on meat and butter (by 25-30%). This caused public discontent. In the southern Russian city of Novocherkassk
Novocherkassk
Novocherkassk is a city in Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the right bank of the Tuzlov River and on the Aksay River. Population: 169,039 ; 170,822 ; 178,000 ; 123,000 ; 81,000 ; 52,000 ....

 (Rostov Region) this discontent escalated to a strike and a revolt against the authorities. The revolt was put down by the military who opened fire on unarmed demonstrators. According to Soviet official accounts, 22 people were killed and 87 wounded. In addition, 116 demonstrators were convicted of involvement and seven of them executed. Information about the revolt and the massacre was completely suppressed in the USSR, but spread through Samizdat
Samizdat
Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader...

 and damaged Khrushchev's reputation in the West.

Drought struck the Soviet Union in 1963; the harvest of 107500000 short tons (97,522,359.6 MT) of grain was down from a peak of 134700000 short tons (122,197,784.5 MT) in 1958. The shortages resulted in bread lines, a fact at first kept from Khrushchev. Reluctant to purchase food in the West, but faced with the alternative of widespread hunger, Khrushchev exhausted the nation's hard currency reserves and expended part of its gold stockpile in the purchase of grain and other foodstuffs.

Education


While visiting the United States in 1959, Khrushchev was greatly impressed by the agricultural education program at Iowa State University
Iowa State University
Iowa State University of Science and Technology, more commonly known as Iowa State University , is a public land-grant and space-grant research university located in Ames, Iowa, United States. Iowa State has produced astronauts, scientists, and Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, along with a host of...

, and sought to imitate it in the Soviet Union. At the time, the main agricultural college in the USSR was in Moscow, and students did not do the manual labor of farming. Khrushchev proposed to move the programs to rural areas. He was unsuccessful, due to resistance from professors and students, who never actually disagreed with the premier, but who did not carry out his proposals. Khrushchev recalled in his memoirs, "It's nice to live in Moscow and work at the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy
Russian State Agricultural University
Moscow Agricultural Academy named after K.A. Timiryazev is one of the oldest agrarian educational institution in Russia. It was founded on December 3, 1865....

. It's a venerable old institution, a large economic unit, with skilled instructors, but it's in the city! Its students aren't yearning to work on the collective farms because to do that they'd have to go out in the provinces and live in the sticks."

Khrushchev founded several academic towns, such as Akademgorodok
Akademgorodok
Akademgorodok , is a part of the Russian city Novosibirsk, located 20 km south of the city center. It is the educational and scientific centre of Siberia...

. The premier believed that Western science flourished because many scientists lived in university towns such as Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

, isolated from big city distractions, and had pleasant living conditions and good pay. He sought to duplicate those conditions in the Soviet Union. Khrushchev's attempt was generally successful, though his new towns and scientific centers tended to attract younger scientists, with older ones unwilling to leave Moscow or Leningrad.

Khrushchev also proposed to restructure Soviet high schools. While the high schools provided a college preparatory curriculum, in fact few Soviet youths went on to university. Khrushchev wanted to shift the focus of secondary schools to vocational training: students would spend much of their time at factory jobs or in apprenticeships and only a small part at the schools. In practice, what occurred is that schools developed links with nearby enterprises, and students went to work for only one or two days a week; the factories and other works disliked having to teach, while students and their families complained that they had little choice in what trade to learn.

While the vocational proposal would not survive Khrushchev's downfall, a longer-lasting change was a related establishment of specialized high schools for gifted students or those wishing to study a specific subject. These schools were modeled after the foreign-language schools that had been established in Moscow and Leningrad beginning in 1949. In 1962, a special summer school was established in Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk is the third-largest city in Russia, after Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and the largest city of Siberia, with a population of 1,473,737 . It is the administrative center of Novosibirsk Oblast as well as of the Siberian Federal District...

 to prepare students for a Siberian math and science Olympiad. The following year, the Novosibirsk Maths and Science Boarding-School became the first permanent residential school specializing in math and science. Other such schools were soon established in Moscow, Leningrad, and Kiev. By the early 1970s, over 100 specialized schools had been established, in mathematics, the sciences, art, music, and sport. Preschool education was increased as part of Khrushchev's reforms, and by the time he left office, about 22% of Soviet children attended preschool—about half of urban children, but only about 12% of rural children.

Foreign and defense policies


When Khrushchev took control, the outside world still knew little of him, and initially was not impressed by him. Short, heavyset, and wearing ill-fitting suits, he "radiated energy but not intellect", and was dismissed by many as a buffoon who would not last long. British Foreign Secretary Harold Macmillan
Harold Macmillan
Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, OM, PC was Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 10 January 1957 to 18 October 1963....

 wondered, "How can this fat, vulgar man with his pig eyes and ceaseless flow of talk be the head—the aspirant Tsar for all those millions of people?"

Khrushchev biographer Tompson described the mercurial leader:

He could be charming or vulgar, ebullient or sullen, he was given to public displays of rage (often contrived) and to soaring hyperbole in his rhetoric. But whatever he was, however he came across, he was more human than his predecessor or even than most of his foreign counterparts, and for much of the world that was enough to make the USSR seem less mysterious or menacing.

Early relations and US visit (1957–1960)


Khrushchev sought to find a lasting solution to the problem of a divided Germany and of the enclave of West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

 deep within East German territory. In November 1958, calling West Berlin a "malignant tumor", he gave the United States, United Kingdom and France six months to conclude a peace treaty with both German states and the Soviet Union. If one was not signed, Khrushchev stated, the Soviet Union would conclude a peace treaty with East Germany. This would leave East Germany, which was not a party to treaties giving the Western Powers access to Berlin, in control of the routes to the city. This ultimatum caused dissent among the Western Allies, who were reluctant to go to war over the issue. Khrushchev, however, repeatedly extended the deadline.

Khrushchev sought to eliminate many conventional weapons, and defend the Soviet Union with missiles. He believed that unless this occurred, the huge Soviet military would continue to eat up resources, making Khrushchev's goals of improving Soviet life difficult to achieve. In 1955, Khrushchev abandoned Stalin's plans for a large navy, believing that the new ships would be too vulnerable to either conventional or nuclear attack. In January 1960, Khrushchev took advantage of improved relations with the US to order a reduction of one-third in the size of Soviet armed forces, alleging that advanced weapons would make up for the lost troops. While conscription of Soviet youth remained in force, exemptions from military service became more and more common, especially for students.

The Soviets had few operable ICBMs; in spite of this Khrushchev publicly boasted of the Soviets' missile programs, stating that Soviet weapons were varied and numerous. The First Secretary hoped that public perception that the Soviets were ahead would result in psychological pressure on the West and political concessions. The Soviet space program, which Khrushchev firmly supported, appeared to confirm his claims when the Soviets launched Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

 into orbit, a launch many westerners, including United States Vice President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 were convinced was a hoax. When it became clear that the launch was real, and Sputnik 1 was in orbit, Western governments concluded that the Soviet ICBM program was further along than it actually was. Khrushchev added to this misapprehension by stating in an October 1957 interview that the USSR had all the rockets, of whatever capacity, that it needed. For years, Khrushchev would make a point of preceding a major foreign trip with a rocket launch, to the discomfiture of his hosts. The United States learned of the primitive state of the Soviet missile program from overflights in the late 1950s, but only high US officials knew of the deception. In January 1960, Khrushchev told the Presidium that Soviet ICBMs made an agreement with the US possible because "main-street Americans have begun to shake from fear for the first times in their lives". The perceived "missile gap
Missile gap
The missile gap was the term used in the United States for the perceived disparity between the number and power of the weapons in the U.S.S.R. and U.S. ballistic missile arsenals during the Cold War. The gap only existed in exaggerated estimates made by the Gaither Committee in 1957 and United...

" led to a considerable defense buildup on the part of the United States.

In 1959, during Nixon's visit to the Soviet Union, Khrushchev took part in what later became known as the Kitchen Debate
Kitchen Debate
The Kitchen Debate was a series of impromptu exchanges between then U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the opening of the American National Exhibition at Sokolniki Park in Moscow on July 24, 1959. For the exhibition, an entire house was built that the...

, as Nixon and Khrushchev had an impassioned argument in a model kitchen at the American National Exhibition
American National Exhibition
The American National Exhibition was held in Sokol'niki Park, Moscow in the summer of 1959.-Objectives:The exhibit was sponsored by the American government, and it followed a similar Soviet Exhibit in New York City earlier that year...

 in Moscow, with each defending the economic system of his country. Khrushchev was invited to visit the United States, and did so that September, spending thirteen days. Khrushchev arrived in Washington, DC on his first visit to the United States on September 15, 1959. The first visit by a Soviet premier to the United States resulted in an extended media circus. Khrushchev brought his wife, Nina Petrovna, and adult children with him, though it was not usual for Soviet officials to travel with their families. The peripatetic premier visited New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco (visiting a supermarket), Iowa (visiting Roswell Garst's farm
Roswell and Elizabeth Garst Farmstead Historic District
The Roswell and Elizabeth Garst Farmstead Historic District is a farm in Guthrie County, Iowa, United States, near the city of Coon Rapids. It is significant as the home of farmer and hybrid corn populizer Roswell Garst. During the 1930s and 1940s, Garst played an active role in the conversion of...

), Pittsburgh, and Washington, concluding with a meeting with US President Eisenhower at Camp David
Camp David
Camp David is the country retreat of the President of the United States and his guests. It is located in low wooded hills about 60 mi north-northwest of Washington, D.C., on the property of Catoctin Mountain Park in unincorporated Frederick County, Maryland, near Thurmont, at an elevation of...

. Khrushchev was supposed to visit Disneyland
Disneyland Park (Anaheim)
Disneyland Park is a theme park located in Anaheim, California, owned and operated by the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts division of the Walt Disney Company. Known as Disneyland when it opened on July 18, 1955, and still almost universally referred to by that name, it is the only theme park to be...

, but the visit was canceled for security reasons, much to his disgruntlement. He did, however, visit Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

 at her home in Hyde Park, New York
Hyde Park, New York
Hyde Park is a town located in the northwest part of Dutchess County, New York, United States, just north of the city of Poughkeepsie. The town is most famous for being the hometown of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt....

. While visiting Thomas J. Watson, Jr's IBM
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

 headquarters, Khrushchev expressed little interest in the computers, but greatly admired the self-service cafeteria, and, on his return, introduced self-service in the Soviet Union.

Khrushchev's US visit resulted in an informal agreement with US president Dwight Eisenhower that there would be no firm deadline over Berlin, but that there would be a four-power summit to try to resolve the issue, and the premier left the US to general good feelings. Khrushchev returned from the US convinced that he had achieved a strong personal relationship with Eisenhower (who in fact was unimpressed by the Soviet leader) and that he could achieve détente
Détente
Détente is the easing of strained relations, especially in a political situation. The term is often used in reference to the general easing of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States in the 1970s, a thawing at a period roughly in the middle of the Cold War...

 with the Americans. He pushed for an immediate summit, but was frustrated by French President Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

, who postponed it until 1960, a year in which Eisenhower was scheduled to pay a return visit to the Soviet Union.
U-2 and Berlin crisis (1960–1961)


A constant irritant in Soviet–US relations was the overflight of the Soviet Union by American U-2 spy aircraft
Lockheed U-2
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency . It provides day and night, very high-altitude , all-weather intelligence gathering...

. On April 9, 1960, the US resumed such flights after a lengthy break. The Soviets had protested the flights in the past, but had been ignored by Washington. Content in what he thought was a strong personal relationship with Eisenhower, Khrushchev was confused and angered by the flights' resumption, and concluded that they had been ordered by CIA Director Allen Dulles without the US President's knowledge. On May 1, a U-2 was shot down
U-2 Crisis of 1960
The 1960 U-2 incident occurred during the Cold War on May 1, 1960, during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower and during the leadership of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, when a United States U-2 spy plane was shot down over the airspace of the Soviet Union.The United States government at...

; its pilot, Francis Gary Powers captured alive. Believing Powers to have been killed, the US announced that a weather plane had been lost near the Turkish-Soviet border. Khrushchev risked destroying the summit, due to start on May 16 in Paris, if he announced the shootdown, but would look weak in the eyes of his military and security forces if he did nothing. Finally, on May 5, Khrushchev announced the shootdown and Powers' capture, blaming the overflight on "imperialist circles and militarists, whose stronghold is the Pentagon", and suggesting the plane had been sent without Eisenhower's knowledge. Eisenhower could not have it thought that there were rogue elements in the Pentagon operating without his knowledge, and admitted that he had ordered the flights, calling them "a distasteful necessity". The admission stunned Khrushchev, and turned the U-2 affair from a possible triumph to a disaster for him, and he even appealed to US Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson
Llewellyn Thompson
Llewellyn E. "Tommy" Thompson Jr. , was a United States diplomat. He served in Sri Lanka, Austria, and for a lengthy period in the Soviet Union where his tenure saw some of the most significant events of the Cold War....

 for help.

Khrushchev was undecided what to do at the summit even as he boarded his flight to Paris. He finally decided, in consultation with his advisers on the plane and Presidium members in Moscow, to demand an apology from Eisenhower and a promise that there would be no further U-2 flights in Soviet airspace. Neither Eisenhower nor Khrushchev communicated with the other in the days before the summit, and at the summit, Khrushchev made his demands and stated that there was no purpose in the summit, which should be postponed for six to eight months, that is until after the 1960 United States presidential election. The US President offered no apology, but stated that the flights had been suspended and would not resume, and renewed his Open Skies
Treaty on Open Skies
The Treaty on Open Skies entered into force on January 1, 2002, and currently has 34 States Parties. It establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants...

 proposal for mutual overflight rights. This was not enough for Khrushchev, who left the summit. Eisenhower accused Khrushchev "of sabotaging this meeting, on which so much of the hopes of the world have rested". Eisenhower's visit to the Soviet Union, for which the premier had even built a golf course so the US President could enjoy his favorite sport, was canceled by Khrushchev.

Khrushchev made his second and final visit to the United States in September 1960. He had no invitation, but had appointed himself as head of the USSR's UN delegation. He spent much of his time wooing the new Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 states which had recently become independent. The US restricted him to the island of Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

, with visits to an estate owned by the USSR on Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

. The notorious shoe-banging incident
Shoe-banging incident
Nikita Khrushchev's shoe-banging incident allegedly occurred during the 902nd Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly held in New York on 12 October 1960, when the infuriated leader of the Soviet Union was said to have pounded his shoe on his delegate-desk in protest of a speech by Philippine...

 occurred during a debate on October 12 over a Soviet resolution decrying colonialism. Infuriated by a statement of the Filipino
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 delegate Lorenzo Sumulong
Lorenzo Sumulong
Lorenzo Sumulong was a Filipino politician who served in the Philippine Senate for four decades, and as a delegate of his country to the United Nations...

 which charged the Soviets with employing a double standard by decrying colonialism while dominating Eastern Europe, Khrushchev demanded the right to reply immediately, and accused Sumulong of being "a fawning lackey of the American imperialists". Sumulong resumed his speech, and accused the Soviets of hypocrisy. Khrushchev yanked off his shoe and began banging it on his desk, joined (less loudly) by Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko
Andrei Gromyko
Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko was a Soviet statesman during the Cold War. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet . Gromyko was responsible for many top decisions on Soviet foreign policy until he retired in 1987. In the West he was given the...

. This behavior by Khrushchev scandalized his delegation.


Khrushchev considered US Vice President Nixon a hardliner, and was delighted by his defeat in the 1960 presidential election. He considered the victor, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 Senator John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

, as a far more likely partner for détente, but was taken aback by the newly inaugurated US President's tough talk and actions in the early days of his administration. Khrushchev achieved a propaganda victory in April 1961 with the first manned spaceflight
Vostok 1
Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight in the Vostok program and the first human spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961. The flight took Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union, into space. The flight marked the first time that a human entered outer...

 and Kennedy a defeat with the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion
Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful action by a CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba, with support and encouragement from the US government, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The invasion was launched in April 1961, less than three months...

. While Khrushchev had threatened to defend Cuba with Soviet missiles, the premier contented himself with after-the-fact aggressive remarks. The failure in Cuba led to Kennedy's determination to make no concessions at the Vienna summit
Vienna summit
The Vienna summit was a summit meeting held on June 4, 1961 in Vienna, Austria between President John F. Kennedy of the United States and Premier Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union. The leaders of the two superpowers of the Cold War era discussed numerous issues in the relationship between their...

 scheduled for June 3, 1961. Both Kennedy and Khrushchev took a hard line, with Khrushchev demanding a treaty that would recognize the two German states and refusing to yield on the remaining issues obstructing a test-ban treaty. Kennedy on the other hand had been led to believe that the test-ban treaty could be concluded at the summit, and felt that a deal on Berlin had to await easing of East–West tensions. Kennedy described negotiating with Khrushchev to his brother Robert as "like dealing with Dad
Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.
Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Sr. was a prominent American businessman, investor, and government official....

. All give and no take."
An indefinite postponement of action over Berlin was unacceptable to Khrushchev if for no other reason that East Germany was suffering a continuous "brain drain" as highly educated East Germans fled west through Berlin. While the boundary between the two German states had elsewhere been fortified, Berlin, administered by the four Allied powers, remained open. Emboldened by statements from former US Ambassador to Moscow Charles E. Bohlen
Charles E. Bohlen
Charles Eustis “Chip” Bohlen was a United States diplomat from 1929 to 1969 and Soviet expert, serving in Moscow before and during World War II, succeeding George F. Kennan as United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union , then ambassador to the Philippines , and to France...

 and United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is a standing committee of the United States Senate. It is charged with leading foreign-policy legislation and debate in the Senate. The Foreign Relations Committee is generally responsible for overseeing and funding foreign aid programs as...

 Chairman J. William Fulbright
J. William Fulbright
James William Fulbright was a United States Senator representing Arkansas from 1945 to 1975.Fulbright was a Southern Democrat and a staunch multilateralist who supported the creation of the United Nations and the longest serving chairman in the history of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee...

 that East Germany had every right to close its borders, which were not disavowed by the Kennedy Administration, Khrushchev authorized East German leader Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht was a German communist politician. As First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1950 to 1971 , he played a leading role in the creation of the Weimar-era Communist Party of Germany and later in the early development and...

 to begin construction of what became known as the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

, which would surround West Berlin. Construction preparations were made in great secrecy, and the border was sealed off in the early hours of Sunday, August 13, 1961, when most East German workers who earned hard currency by working in West Berlin would be at their homes. The wall was a propaganda disaster, and marked the end of Khrushchev's attempts to conclude a peace treaty among the Four Powers and the two German states. That treaty
Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
The Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, was negotiated in 1990 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic , and the Four Powers which occupied Germany at the end of World War II in Europe: France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the...

 would not be signed until September 1990, as an immediate prelude to German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

.
Caribbean crisis and test ban treaty (1962–1964)

Superpower tensions culminated in the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

 (in the USSR, the "Caribbean crisis") of October 1962, as the Soviet Union sought to install medium range nuclear missiles in Cuba, about 90 miles (144.8 km) from the US coast. Cuban President Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 was reluctant to accept the missiles, and, once he was persuaded, warned Khrushchev against transporting the missiles in secret. Castro stated, thirty years later, "We had a sovereign right to accept the missiles. We were not violating international law. Why do it secretly—as if we had no right to do it? I warned Nikita that secrecy would give the imperialists the advantage."

On October 16, Kennedy was informed that U-2 flights over Cuba had discovered what were most likely medium-range missile sites, and though he and his advisors considered approaching Khrushchev through diplomatic channels, could come up with no way of doing this that would not appear weak. On October 22, Kennedy addressed his nation by television, revealing the missiles' presence and announcing a blockade of Cuba. Informed in advance of the speech but not (until one hour before) the content, Khrushchev and his advisors feared an invasion of Cuba. Even before Kennedy's speech, they ordered Soviet commanders in Cuba that they could use all weapons against an attack—except atomic weapons.

As the crisis unfolded, tensions were high in the US; less so in the Soviet Union, where Khrushchev made several public appearances, and went to the Bolshoi Theatre
Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by architect Joseph Bové, which holds performances of ballet and opera. The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera are amongst the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world...

 to hear American opera singer Jerome Hines
Jerome Hines
The American Jerome A. Hines was a basso opera singer who performed at the Metropolitan Opera from 1946 to 1987...

, who was then performing in Moscow. By October 25, with the Soviets unclear about Kennedy's full intentions, Khrushchev decided that the missiles would have to be withdrawn from Cuba. Two days later, he offered Kennedy terms for the withdrawal. Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles in exchange for a US promise not to invade Cuba and a promise that the US would withdraw missiles from Turkey, near the Soviet heartland. As the last term was not publicly announced at the request of the US, and was not known until just before Khrushchev's death in 1971, the resolution was seen as a great defeat for the Soviets, and contributed to Khrushchev's fall less than two years later. Castro had urged Khrushchev to launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the US in the event of any invasion of Cuba, and was angered by the outcome, referring to Khrushchev in profane terms; Khrushchev invited him to Moscow later, and was able to restore good relations.

After the crisis, superpower relations improved, as Kennedy gave a conciliatory speech at American University
American University
American University is a private, Methodist, liberal arts, and research university in Washington, D.C. The university was chartered by an Act of Congress on December 5, 1892 as "The American University", which was approved by President Benjamin Harrison on February 24, 1893...

 on June 10, 1963, recognizing the Soviet people's suffering during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and paying tribute to their achievements. Khrushchev called the speech the best by a US president since Franklin Roosevelt, and, in July, negotiated a test ban treaty
Partial Test Ban Treaty
The treaty banning nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water, often abbreviated as the Partial Test Ban Treaty , Limited Test Ban Treaty , or Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is a treaty prohibiting all test detonations of nuclear weapons...

 with US negotiator Averill Harriman and with Lord Hailsham
Quintin Hogg, Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone
For the businessman and philanthropist, see Quintin Hogg Quintin McGarel Hogg, Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone, KG, CH, PC, QC, FRS , formerly 2nd Viscount Hailsham , was a British politician who was known for the longevity of his career, the vigour with which he campaigned for the Conservative...

 of the United Kingdom. Plans for a second Khrushchev-Kennedy summit were dashed by the US President's assassination in November 1963. The new US President, Lyndon Johnson, hoped for continued improved relations but was distracted by other issues and had little opportunity to develop a relationship with Khrushchev before the premier's ouster.

Eastern Europe



The Secret Speech, combined with the death of Polish communist leader Boleslaw Bierut
Boleslaw Bierut
Bolesław Bierut was a Polish Communist leader, NKVD agent, and a hard-line Stalinist who became President of Poland after the Soviet takeover of the country in the aftermath of .-Life:...

, who suffered a heart attack while reading the Speech, sparked considerable liberalization in Poland and Hungary. In Poland, a worker's strike in Poznan
Poznan
Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

 developed into disturbances
Poznan 1956 protests
The Poznań 1956 protests, also known as Poznań 1956 uprising or Poznań June , were the first of several massive protests of the Polish people against the communist government of the People's Republic of Poland...

 which left more than 50 dead in October 1956. When Moscow blamed the disturbances on Western agitators, Polish leaders ignored the claim, and instead made concessions to the workers. With anti-Soviet displays becoming more common in Poland, and crucial Polish leadership elections upcoming, Khrushchev and other Presidium members flew to Warsaw. While the Soviets were refused entry to the Polish Central Committee plenum where the election was taking place, they met with the Polish Presidium. The Soviets agreed to allow the new Polish leadership to take office, on the assurance there would be no change to the Soviet-Polish relationship.

The Polish settlement emboldened the Hungarians, who decided that Moscow could be defied. A mass demonstration in Budapest on October 23 turned into a popular uprising. In response to the uprising, Hungarian Party leaders installed reformist Premier
Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Hungary
The Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Hungary was created following the founding of the People's Republic of Hungary. Along with the state itself, it was dissolved on 23 October 1989...

 Imre Nagy
Imre Nagy
Imre Nagy was a Hungarian communist politician who was appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Hungary on two occasions...

. Soviet forces in the city clashed with Hungarians and even fired on demonstrators, with hundreds of both Hungarians and Soviets killed. Nagy called for a cease-fire and a withdrawal of Soviet troops, which a Khrushchev-led majority in the Presidium decided to obey, choosing to give the new Hungarian government a chance. Khrushchev assumed that if Moscow announced liberalization in how it dealt with its allies, Nagy would adhere to the alliance with the Soviet Union. However, on October 30 Nagy announced multiparty elections, and the next morning that Hungary would leave the Warsaw Pact. On November 3, two members of the Nagy government appeared in Ukraine as the self-proclaimed heads of a provisional government and demanded Soviet intervention, which was forthcoming. The next day, Soviet troops crushed the Hungarian uprising, with a death toll of 4,000 Hungarians and several hundred Soviet troops. Nagy was arrested, and was later executed. Despite the international outrage over the intervention, Khrushchev defended his actions for the rest of his life. Damage to Soviet foreign relations was severe, and would have been greater were it not for the fortuitous timing of the Suez crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

, which distracted world attention.

In the aftermath of these crises, Khrushchev made the statement for which he became well-remembered, "We will bury you
We will bury you
"We will bury you!" was a phrase famously used by Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow on November 18, 1956....

" (in Russian, "Мы вас похороним!" (My vas pokhoronim!)). While many in the West took this statement as a literal threat, Khrushchev made the statement in a speech on peaceful coexistence with the West. When questioned about the statement during his 1959 US visit, Khrushchev stated that he was not referring to a literal burial, but that, through inexorable historical development, communism would replace capitalism and "bury" it.

Khrushchev greatly improved relations with Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

, which had been entirely sundered in 1948 when Stalin realized he could not control Yugoslav leader Josip Tito. Khrushchev led a Soviet delegation to Belgrade in 1955. Though a hostile Tito did everything he could to make the Soviets look foolish (including getting them drunk in public), Khrushchev was successful in warming relations, ending the Informbiro
Informbiro
Informbiro was a period in the history of Yugoslavia characterized by conflict and schism with the Soviet Union...

 period in Soviet-Yugoslav relations. During the Hungarian crisis, Tito initially supported Nagy, but Khrushchev persuaded him of the need for intervention. Still, the intervention in Hungary damaged Moscow's relationship with Belgrade, which Khrushchev spent several years trying to repair. He was hampered by the fact that China disapproved of Yugoslavia's liberal version of communism, and attempts to conciliate Belgrade resulted in an angry Beijing.

China


After completing his takeover of mainland China in 1949, Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 sought material assistance from the USSR, and also called for the return to China of territories taken from it under the Tsars. As Khrushchev took control of the USSR, he increased aid to China, even sending a small corps of experts to help develop the newly communist country. This assistance was described by historian William Kirby as "the greatest transfer of technology in world history". The Soviet Union spent 7% of its national income between 1954 and 1959 on aid to China. On his 1954 visit to China, Khrushchev agreed to return Port Arthur and Dalian
Dalian
Dalian is a major city and seaport in the south of Liaoning province, Northeast China. It faces Shandong to the south, the Yellow Sea to the east and the Bohai Sea to the west and south. Holding sub-provincial administrative status, Dalian is the southernmost city of Northeast China and China's...

 to China, though Khrushchev was annoyed by Mao's insistence that the Soviets leave their artillery as they departed.

Mao bitterly opposed Khrushchev's attempts to reach a rapprochement with more liberal Eastern European states such as Yugoslavia. Khrushchev's government, on the other hand, was reluctant to endorse Mao's desires for an assertive worldwide revolutionary movement, preferring to conquer capitalism through raising the standard of living in communist-bloc countries.

Relations between the two nations began to cool in 1956, with Mao angered both by the Secret Speech and by the fact that the Chinese had not been consulted in advance about it. Mao believed that de-Stalinization was a mistake, and a possible threat to his own authority. When Khrushchev visited Beijing in 1958, Mao refused proposals for military cooperation. Hoping to torpedo Khrushchev's efforts at détente with the US, Mao soon thereafter provoked the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis
Second Taiwan Strait Crisis
The Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, also called the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, was a conflict that took place between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China governments in which the PRC shelled the islands of Matsu and Quemoy in the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to seize them from...

, describing the Taiwanese islands shelled in the crisis as "batons that keep Eisenhower and Khrushchev dancing, scurrying this way and that. Don't you see how wonderful they are?"

The Soviets had planned to provide China with an atomic bomb complete with full documentation, but in 1959, amid cooler relations, the Soviets destroyed the device and papers instead. When Khrushchev paid a visit to China in September, shortly after his successful US visit, he met a chilly reception, and Khrushchev left the country on the third day of a planned seven-day visit. Relations continued to deteriorate in 1960, as both the USSR and China used a Romanian Communist Party congress as an opportunity to attack the other. After Khrushchev attacked China in his speech to the congress, Chinese leader Peng Zhen
Peng Zhen
Peng Zhen was a leading member of the Communist Party of China.-Biography:Born in Houma , Peng was originally named Fu Maogong....

 mocked Khrushchev, stating that the premier's foreign policy was to blow hot and cold towards the West. Khrushchev responded by pulling Soviet experts out of China.

Removal



Beginning in March 1964, Supreme Soviet head Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 began discussing Khrushchev's removal with his colleagues. While Brezhnev considered having Khrushchev arrested as he returned from a trip to Scandinavia in June, he instead spent time persuading members of the Central Committee to support an ouster of Khrushchev, remembering how crucial the Committee's support had been to Khrushchev in defeating the Anti-Party Group plot. Brezhnev was given ample time for his conspiracy; Khrushchev was absent from Moscow for a total of five months between January and September 1964.

The conspirators, led by Brezhnev, Aleksandr Shelepin, and KGB Chairman Vladimir Semichastny
Vladimir Semichastny
Vladimir Yefimovich Semichastny was the head of the KGB from November 1961 to April 1967....

, struck in October 1964, while Khrushchev was on vacation at Pitsunda
Pitsunda
Pitsunda is a resort town in Gagra district of Abkhazia.The town was founded by the Greeks in the 5th century BC as a trade colony Pityus or Pitiunt. Excavations guided by Andria Apakidze unearthed remains of three 4th-century churches and a bath with superb mosaic floors...

, Abkhazia. On October 12, Brezhnev called Khrushchev to notify him of a special Presidium meeting to be held the following day, ostensibly on the subject of agriculture. Even though Khrushchev suspected the real reason for the meeting, he flew to Moscow to be attacked by Brezhnev and other Presidium members for his policy failures and what his colleagues deemed to be erratic behavior. Khrushchev put up little resistance, and that night called his friend and Presidium colleague Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan was an Armenian Old Bolshevik and Soviet statesman during the rules of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev....

, and told him,

I'm old and tired. Let them cope by themselves. I've done the main thing. Could anyone have dreamed of telling Stalin that he didn't suit us anymore and suggesting he retire? Not even a wet spot would have remained where we had been standing. Now everything is different. The fear is gone, and we can talk as equals. That's my contribution. I won't put up a fight.

On October 14, 1964, the Presidium and the Central Committee each voted to accept Khrushchev's "voluntary" retirement from his offices. Brezhnev was elected First Secretary (later General Secretary), while Alexei Kosygin succeeded Khrushchev as premier.

Life in retirement


Khrushchev was granted a pension of 500 rubles per month, and was assured that his house and dacha were his for life. Following his removal from power, Khrushchev fell into deep depression. He received few visitors, especially since Khrushchev's security guards kept track of all guests and reported their comings and goings. In the fall of 1965, he and his wife were ordered to leave their house and dacha to move to an apartment and to a smaller dacha. His pension was reduced to 400 rubles per month, though his retirement remained comfortable by Soviet standards. The depression continued. His doctor prescribed sleeping pills and tranquilizers, but even so, when one of his grandsons was asked what the ex-premier was doing in retirement, the boy replied, "Grandfather cries." He was made a nonperson to such an extent that the thirty-volume Soviet Encyclopedia omitted his name from the list of prominent political commissars during the Great Patriotic War.

As the new rulers made their conservatism in artistic matters known, Khrushchev came to be more favorably viewed by artists and writers, some of whom visited him. One visitor whom Khrushchev regretted not seeing was former US Vice President Nixon, then in his "wilderness years" before his election to the presidency, who came to Khrushchev's Moscow apartment while the former premier was at his dacha.

Beginning in 1966, Khrushchev began his memoirs. He dictated them into a tape recorder, and, after attempts to record outdoors failed due to background noise, recorded indoors, knowing that every word would be heard by the KGB. However, the security agency made no attempt to interfere until 1968, when Khrushchev was ordered to turn over his tapes, which he refused to do. However, while Khrushchev was hospitalized with heart ailments his son, Sergei, was approached by the KGB and told that there was a plot afoot by foreign agents to steal the memoirs. Since copies had been made, some of which had been transmitted to a Western publisher, and since the KGB could steal the originals anyway, Sergei Khrushchev turned over the materials to the KGB, but also instructed that the smuggled memoirs be published, which they were in 1970 under the title Khrushchev Remembers. Under some pressure, Nikita Khrushchev signed a statement that he had not given the materials to any publisher, and his son was transferred to a less desirable job. Upon publication of the memoirs in the West, Izvestia
Izvestia
Izvestia is a long-running high-circulation daily newspaper in Russia. The word "izvestiya" in Russian means "delivered messages", derived from the verb izveshchat . In the context of newspapers it is usually translated as "news" or "reports".-Origin:The newspaper began as the News of the...

denounced them as a fraud. When Soviet state radio carried the announcement of Khrushchev's statement, it was the first time in six years he had been mentioned in that medium.

In his final days, Khrushchev visited his son-in-law and former aide, Alexei Adzubei, and told him, "[n]ever regret that you lived in stormy times and worked with me in the Central Committee. We will yet be remembered!"

Khrushchev died of a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 in a hospital near his home in Moscow on September 11, 1971, and is buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in Moscow, Russia. It is next to the 16th-century Novodevichy Convent, which is the city's third most popular tourist site. It should not be confused with the Novodevichy Cemetery in Saint Petersburg....

 in Moscow, having been denied a state funeral
State funeral
A state funeral is a public funeral ceremony, observing the strict rules of protocol, held to honor heads of state or other important people of national significance. State funerals usually include much pomp and ceremony as well as religious overtones and distinctive elements of military tradition...

, and interment in the Kremlin Wall
Kremlin Wall Necropolis
Burials in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in Moscow began in November 1917, when 240 pro-Bolshevik victims of the October Revolution were buried in mass graves on Red Square. It is centered on both sides of Lenin's Mausoleum, initially built in wood in 1924 and rebuilt in granite in 1929–1930...

. Fearing demonstrations, the authorities did not announce Khrushchev's death until the hour of his wake, and surrounded the cemetery with troops. Even so, some artists and writers joined the family at the graveside for the interment.

Pravda ran a one-sentence announcement of the former premier's death; Western newspapers contained considerable coverage. Veteran New York Times Moscow correspondent Harry Schwartz wrote of Khrushchev, "Mr. Khrushchev opened the doors and windows of a petrified structure. He let in fresh air and fresh ideas, producing changes which time already has shown are irreversible and fundamental."

Legacy



Many of Khrushchev's innovations were reversed after his fall. The requirement that one-third of officials be replaced at each election was overturned, as was the division in the Party structure between industrial and agricultural sectors. His vocational education program for high school students was also dropped, and his plan for sending existing agricultural institutions out to the land was ended. However, new agricultural or vocational institutions thereafter were located outside major cities. When new housing was built, much of it was in the form of high rises rather than Khrushchev's low-rise structures, which lacked elevators or balconies.

Some of Khrushchev's agricultural projects were also easily overturned. Corn became so unpopular in 1965 that its planting fell to the lowest level in the postwar period, as even kolkhozes which had been successful with it in Ukraine and other southern portions of the USSR refused to plant it. Lysenko was stripped of his policy-making positions. However, the MTS stations remained closed, and the basic agricultural problems, which Khrushchev had tried to address, remained. While the Soviet standard of living increased greatly in the ten years after Khrushchev's fall, much of the increase was due to industrial progress; agriculture continued to lag far behind, resulting in regular agricultural crises, especially in 1972 and 1975. Brezhnev and his successors continued Khrushchev's precedent of buying grain from the West rather than suffer shortfalls and starvation. Neither Brezhnev nor his colleagues were personally popular, and the new government relied on authoritarian power to assure its continuation. The KGB and Red Army were given increasing powers. The government's conservative tendencies would lead to the crushing of the "Prague Spring
Prague Spring
The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II...

" of 1968.

Though Khrushchev's strategy failed to achieve the major goals he sought, Aleksandr Fursenko, who wrote a book analyzing Khrushchev's foreign and military policies, argued that the strategy did coerce the West in a limited manner. The agreement that the United States would not invade Cuba has been adhered to. The refusal of the western world to acknowledge East Germany was gradually eroded, and, in 1975, the United States and other NATO members signed the Helsinki Agreement with the USSR and Warsaw Pact nations, including East Germany, setting human rights standards in Europe.

The Russian public's view of Khrushchev remains mixed. According to a major Russian pollster, the only eras of the 20th century that Russians evaluate positively are those under Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

, and under Khrushchev. A poll of young Russians found that they felt Nicholas II had done more good than harm, and all other 20th century Russian leaders more harm than good—except Khrushchev, about whom they were evenly divided. Khrushchev biographer William Tompson related the former premier's reforms to those which occurred later:

Throughout the Brezhnev years and the lengthy interregnum that followed, the generation which had come of age during the 'first Russian spring' of the 1950s awaited its turn in power. As Brezhnev and his colleagues died or were pensioned off, they were replaced by men and women for whom the Secret Speech and the first wave of de-Stalinization had been a formative experience, and these 'Children of Twentieth Congress' took up the reins of power under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev and his colleagues. The Khrushchev era provided this second generation of reformers with both an inspiration and a cautionary tale.

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