"I told you American imperialists to shoo
"We will bury you."
— Nikita Khrushchevnote
Khrushchev was the guy who led the Soviet Union after Josef Stalin
. In the West, he's remembered as a hotheaded buffoon who pounded his shoe on a table at the United Nations
. Whether that incident really happened is a matter of some debate, but it's become a symbol of the Cold War
anyway. In Russia, he's remembered for his domestic work, particularly his (failed) efforts to improve Soviet agriculture.
The most notable thing Khrushchev did is almost certainly the "secret speech", in which he denounced Stalin's tyranny, and his subsequent de-Stalinization reforms. Outside the Soviet Union, the reviews were not good from all those commies who had idealized Stalin, with China's Mao Zedong
denouncing the speech as "revisionist". Khrushchev also supported a policy of "peaceful coexistence", which was based on the radical notion that blowing up the world would be bad. In the paranoid climate of the Cold War, that sounded like capitulation to China, Albania, and North Korea. Soon, the Sino-Soviet split developed.
Other notable events of his time in power include the launching of Sputnik
and Yuri Gagarin
's orbit around the Earth. On a less positive note, he crushed the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and oversaw the construction of the Berlin Wall
. And yes, he is partly to blame for the recent tumults in Ukraine. A Ukrainian himself, he found it prudent to give away Crimea to the Ukranian Soviet Republic in 1953. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
He's also remembered for his role in the Cuban missile crisis, traditionally as the "loser" to John F. Kennedy
. However, Khrushchev didn't make it out of that confrontation as badly as it initially seems, due to a secret deal to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviet missiles in Cuba. But since that deal was, you know, secret, Khrushchev couldn't use it to fight the impression that he was incompetent. In the end, he was deposed by more hardline rivals, making him and Mikhail Gorbachev
the only Soviet leaders to leave office before their deaths. If sources are to be believed, the man could be embarrassingly free-spoken and honest about things, something which actually annoyed his own secret police. May be a reason why the other leaders decided to remove him.
Also, he and Richard Nixon
had some sort of fight in a kitchen or something.
- He's mentioned frequently, but unseen, in Thirteen Days. The members of the Kennedy administration spend a lot of time trying to guess what Khrushchev's game is and, at one point, whether he's even still in power.
- In Batman: The Movie, the Soviet ambassador is shown banging his shoe on the table in homage to Khrushchev.
- He's played by Bob Hoskins in Enemy at the Gates, which exaggerates his role in the Battle of Stalingrad for the sake of Young Future Famous People.