Useful Notes: Nikita Khrushchev
"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 USSR he was remembered as that utter idiot and incompetent who destroyed the Red Army
and was obsessed
with missiles, practicing an absolutely idiotic
brand of nuclear-blackmail/brinkmanship that nearly killed several hundred million people. In the West, he's remembered as a hotheaded buffoon who pounded his shoe on a table at the United Nations
. Whether the shoe-related 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 by introducing corn to the USSR, and the Khruschyovkas, low-quality, very cookie-cutter style apartment buildings that were supposed to be a temporary measure alleviate the housing shortage (they were partially successful in this) until "communism was achieved in 20 years or so". Obviously, this never happened, and many people still live in such buildings today.
The bravest thing Khrushchev did was give his "Secret Speech" to the 20th Party Congress on the 25th of March 1956. In it he denounced Stalin's elevation of himself to godhood, his tyranny, his pettiness, and his incompetence before the entire leadership of the Soviet Union. He had a script, but he got so emotional he couldn't stick to itnote
. Even the original transcript, as read out to people by their managers, is said to have reduced some to tears. Of course, Khruschev sidestepped the issue of his own complicity in Stalin's policies, let alone that of his audience which included Mikoyan and Molotov. Yes, that Molotov
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 and Khruschev's de-stalinization initiatives as "revisionist" and a deviation from ideological orthodoxy. 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. On the other hand, it allowed Soviet-Yugoslav relations to recover after the Tito-Stalin split (after Khrushchev, ever the happy Sentimental Drunk
, got hammered with the rest of the Soviet delegation at a summit in Belgrade and plied Tito and his aides with drink and pleas to "drink up and let bygones be bygones").
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, Boychick
. Finally, it should be noted that, although his efforts to improve the Soviet agriculture mostly failednote
, the improved relations with the West allowed to USSR to import grain and finally put a stop to the famines that plagued it since The Russian Civi lWar and the later collectivisation of agriculture in 1929 (and wartime Tsarist Russia
before that, what with the over-mobilization and goods-shortage crises
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 general (and generally correct, given his litany of horrible misjudgements and diplomatic bunglings which nearly caused World War III
) 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.