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Nikita Khrushchev
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Nikita Khrushchev

Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (Russian: Ники́та Серге́евич Хрущёв) (nih-KEE-tah khroo-SHCHYOFF) (April 17, 1894 - September 11, 1971) was a Soviet politician. Following a power struggle, he emerged as the leader of Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin: he was First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and Premier of the Soviet Union from 1958 to 1964.

Born in Kalinovka, Kursk Province, Russia, Khrushchev trained for and worked as a pipe fitter in various mines. During the revolution he fought in the Red Army. He rose in the party apparatus to the Politburo. During World War II, he served with the equivalent rank of Lieutenant General.

In the months following the German invasion in 1941, Khrushchev came into conflict with Stalin over the conduct of the war in the Ukraine, where Khrushchev was the local party leader. He considered Stalin's unwillingness to accept retreat as a military option to be foolish and wasteful in the face of the overwhelming odds the soldiers were facing. Later, he was a political commissar at the Battle of Stalingrad.

After Stalin's death in March 1953, there was a power struggle between different factions within the party. Khrushchev prevailed, becoming party leader on September 7 of that year, and his main rival, NKVD chief Lavrenty Beria, was executed in December. Khrushchev pursued a course of reform and shocked delegates to the 20th Party Congress on February 23, 1956 by publicly denouncing the "cult of personality" that surrounded Stalin, and accusing Stalin of mass murder during the Great Purges. This effectively alienated Khrushchev from the more conservative elements of the Party, but he managed to defeat what he termed the Anti-Party Group after they failed in a bid to oust him from the party leadership in 1957. He became Premier of the Soviet Union on March 27, 1958. In 1959 during Richard Nixon's journey to the Soviet Union, he took part in what was later known as the Kitchen Debate.

Khrushchev was regarded by his political enemies as a boorish, uncivilized peasant, with a reputation for interrupting speakers to insult them. In one famous incident at a United Nations conference on October 12, 1960, Lorenzo Sumulong, the Filipino delegate, asked Khrushchev how he could protest Western capitalist imperialism while the Soviet Union was at the same time rapidly assimilating Eastern Europe. Khrushchev became enraged and informed Sumulong that he was, "a jerk, a stooge and a lackey of imperialism," then removed one of his shoes and made a move as to bang it in the table, although he never did. The famous image where he is seen holding a shoe is manipulated (It would be impractical to hold a shoe by the heel if one intends to bang the table with it).

During a Big Four summit in Paris on May 16, 1960, Khrushchev demanded an apology from US President Dwight D. Eisenhower for U-2 spy plane flights over the Soviet Union. This ended the conference.

At another occasion, Khrushchev said in reference to capitalism, "We will bury you," recalling the popular Marxist saying, "The proletariat is the undertaker of capitalism."

Khrushchev's rivals in the party deposed him at a Central Committee meeting on October 14, 1964. The removal was largely due to his handling of the Cuban missile crisis and his personal mannerisms, both of which were regarded by the Party as tremendous embarrassments on the international stage.

After seven years of house arrest, Khrushchev died at his home in Moscow on September 11, 1971. He is interred in the Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow, Russia.

Khrushchev's son, Sergei Khrushchev, emigrated to the United States and is now an American citizen. He often speaks to American audiences to share his memories of the "other" side of the Cold War.

Table of contents
1 Key political actions
2 Key economic actions
3 Other
4 See also
5 External link

Key political actions

Key economic actions


Bob Hoskins played Khrushchev in the movie Enemy at the Gates (2001). Here Khrushchev is shown in his political commissar days during the Battle of Stalingrad. His eldest son dies in the battle.

See also

External link

[http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1956khrushchev-secret1.html Modern History Sourcebook: Nikita S. Khrushchev: The Secret Speech - On the Cult of Personality, 1956 ]

Preceded by:
Georgy Malenkov
List of leaders of the Soviet Union Succeeded by:
Leonid Brezhnev