Difference between revisions of "Nikita Khrushchev"

From Conservapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
(add)
Line 1: Line 1:
'''Nikita Khruschev''' (1894 - 1971) was a Russian Communist who seized power as dictator over the [[Soviet Union]] when [[Joseph Stalin]] died in 1953, and lasted until he was ousted in 1964. It was the height of the [[Cold War]] between the Soviet bloc and the United Sattes and its allies.  One of the most colorful world leaders of the 20th century, he always identified with the peasant--and indeed he was crude, unsophisticated, earthy, and brutal, as well as energetic, shrewd and determined.  He really did hammer his shoe on the table at the United Nations when he disagreed with a speaker.  He exposed and ended some of the arbitrary cruelty of Stalin in order to unleash what he thought was the scientific prowess of socialism, but apart from launching the world's first satellite into space, he never found the magic technological fix for Russia's ills, and instead came dangerously close to war with both the Americans and the Chinese.  His leadership of the Communist bloc in the [[Cold War]] was so dangerous he had to be removed by his subordinates.
+
'''Nikita Khrushchev''' (1894 - 1971) was a Russian Communist who seized power as dictator over the [[Soviet Union]] when [[Joseph Stalin]] died in 1953, and lasted until he was ousted in 1964. It was the height of the [[Cold War]] between the Soviet bloc and the United States and its allies.  One of the most colorful world leaders of the 20th century, he always identified with the peasant--and indeed he was crude, unsophisticated, earthy, and brutal, as well as energetic, shrewd and determined.  He really did hammer his shoe on the table at the United Nations when he disagreed with a speaker.  He exposed and ended some of the arbitrary cruelty of Stalin in order to unleash what he thought was the scientific prowess of socialism, but apart from launching the world's first satellite into space, he never found the magic technological fix for Russia's ills, and instead came dangerously close to war with both the Americans and the Chinese.  His leadership of the Communist bloc in the [[Cold War]] was so dangerous he had to be removed by his subordinates.
 
[[File:Khrush-1961.jpg|thumb|290px|Khrushchev liked to threaten and bully; ''Time'' Sept. 8, 1961]]
 
[[File:Khrush-1961.jpg|thumb|290px|Khrushchev liked to threaten and bully; ''Time'' Sept. 8, 1961]]
  
Line 6: Line 6:
  
 
==Coming to Power, 1953==
 
==Coming to Power, 1953==
After Stalin's death in 1953, Khrushchev and premier Georgi Malenkov united their networks against Soviet security chief Lavrenti Beria. The defection of two of Beria's deputy ministers, Sergei Kruglov and Ivan Serov, allowed Khrushchev and Malenkov to arrest Beria for Beria no longer had control of Ministry of Interior troops and the troops of the Kremlin guard. Beria was shot.  By 1957 he had consolidated his dictatorship by building a network of loyalists among oblast secretaries, which enabled him to win victory in the Central Committee over the "anti-party group" of Malenkov, Vyacheslav Molotov, and Lazar Kaganovich. Officially he was First Secretaryof the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the SovietUnion from 1953 to 1964 and Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministersfrom 1958 to 1964. He lived in a Kremlin apartment with his wife Nina and their children.
+
After Stalin's death in 1953, Khrushchev and premier Georgi Malenkov united their networks against Soviet security chief Lavrenti Beria. The defection of two of Beria's deputy ministers, Sergei Kruglov and Ivan Serov, allowed Khrushchev and Malenkov to arrest Beria for Beria no longer had control of Ministry of Interior troops and the troops of the Kremlin guard. Beria was shot.  By 1957 he had consolidated his dictatorship by building a network of loyalists among oblast secretaries, which enabled him to win victory in the Central Committee over the "anti-party group" of Malenkov, Vyacheslav Molotov, and Lazar Kaganovich. Officially he was First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964 and Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers from 1958 to 1964. He lived in a Kremlin apartment with his wife Nina and their children.
  
 
==Foreign policy==
 
==Foreign policy==
 
Khrushchev handled foreign policy poorly.  He had to preserve control of Eastern Europe--persuasion failed and he sent in his army. Second, he had to maintain the unity of the world Communist movement, which turned above all on relations with China. He failed and made his most important ally into his most implacable foe.  Finally he had to de-escalate tensions and reach equilibrium with the United States.  He instead tried confrontation, leading to near disaster in 1964 until he drew back at the last second over Cuba.  More successful was his quest for prestige which centered on the Space Race--where the Soviets astonished the world by taking a clear lead over the U.S. for a few years.
 
Khrushchev handled foreign policy poorly.  He had to preserve control of Eastern Europe--persuasion failed and he sent in his army. Second, he had to maintain the unity of the world Communist movement, which turned above all on relations with China. He failed and made his most important ally into his most implacable foe.  Finally he had to de-escalate tensions and reach equilibrium with the United States.  He instead tried confrontation, leading to near disaster in 1964 until he drew back at the last second over Cuba.  More successful was his quest for prestige which centered on the Space Race--where the Soviets astonished the world by taking a clear lead over the U.S. for a few years.
  
==Tense relations with U.S.==
+
==Relations with U.S.==
 +
[[Image:Kennedy khrushchev.jpg|right|250px|thumb|Khrushchev and Kennedy at the Vienna Summit in 1961.]]
 +
 
 
Khrushchev met with [[President Kennedy]] during Kennedy's first year in office at the Vienna Summit of 1961.  Journalist James Reston wrote afterward,  
 
Khrushchev met with [[President Kennedy]] during Kennedy's first year in office at the Vienna Summit of 1961.  Journalist James Reston wrote afterward,  
 
{{Cquote|Kennedy went there shortly after his spectacular blunders at the [[Bay of Pigs]], and was savaged by Khrushchev.... I had an hour alone with President Kennedy immediately after his last meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna at that time...Khrushchev had assumed, Kennedy said, that any American President who invaded Cuba without adequate preparation was inexperienced, and any president who then didn't use force to see the invasion through was weak. Kennedy admitted Khrushchev's logic on both points.}}
 
{{Cquote|Kennedy went there shortly after his spectacular blunders at the [[Bay of Pigs]], and was savaged by Khrushchev.... I had an hour alone with President Kennedy immediately after his last meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna at that time...Khrushchev had assumed, Kennedy said, that any American President who invaded Cuba without adequate preparation was inexperienced, and any president who then didn't use force to see the invasion through was weak. Kennedy admitted Khrushchev's logic on both points.}}
[[Image:Kennedy khrushchev.jpg|right|250px|thumb|Khrushchev and Kennedy at the Vienna Summit in 1961.]]
 
Seeing Kennedy's indecisiveness, he ordered the building of the [[Berlin Wall]] in 1962 to stop the exodus of talent from East Germany to freedom.  Kennedy made some speeches then accommodated to the new tyranny.  Emboldened, the Soviets expanded their subversion in weak nations, knowing that the American [[containment]] policy would force the West to defend itself under the most adverse conditions, as selected by the Kremlin.  Sums were spread widely to see where trouble would best brew.
 
 
  
 
[[File:Khrush-chef.jpg|thumb|260px|Khrushchev cooks up trouble for the West, looking to see where unrest will boil over]]
 
[[File:Khrush-chef.jpg|thumb|260px|Khrushchev cooks up trouble for the West, looking to see where unrest will boil over]]
 +
Seeing Kennedy's indecisiveness, he ordered the building of the [[Berlin Wall]] in 1962 to stop the exodus of talent from East Germany to freedom.  Kennedy made some speeches then accommodated to the new tyranny.  Emboldened, the Soviets expanded their subversion in weak nations, knowing that the American [[containment]] policy would force the West to defend itself under the most adverse conditions, as selected by the Kremlin.  Sums were spread widely to see where trouble would best brew.
  
 
===Cuban Missile Crisis===
 
===Cuban Missile Crisis===
 
see [[Cuban Missile Crisis]]
 
see [[Cuban Missile Crisis]]
Much more serious was his miscalculations on Cuba, which he feared would be invaded by Americans. As the Kennedy Administration developed a first-strike strategy and a nuclear superiority capable of delivering it, Khrushchev sought to parry the American advantage by installing short-range Soviet warheads in Cuba. Stunned to discover the missiles, Washington demanded their removal and through a naval blockade around the island.  Khrushchev seems not to have consulted his advisors, but at last relented and took out the missiles and nuclear weapons, winning a public promise that the U.S. would never invade Cuba.  He also got the Americans to secretly remove their nuclear missiles from Turkey and Italy. His recklessness troubled other Kremlin leaders, who saw the Cuban episode as a fiasco that was all Khrushchev's fault.
+
Much more serious was his miscalculations on Cuba, which he feared would be invaded by Americans. As the Kennedy Administration developed a first-strike strategy and a nuclear superiority capable of delivering it, Khrushchev sought to parry the American advantage by installing short-range Soviet warheads in Cuba. Stunned to discover the missiles, Washington demanded their removal and through a naval blockade around the island.  Khrushchev seems not to have consulted his advisors, but at last relented and took out the missiles and nuclear weapons, winning a public promise that the U.S. would never invade Cuba.  He also got the Americans to secretly remove their nuclear missiles from Turkey and Italy. His recklessness troubled other Kremlin leaders, who saw the Cuban episode as a fiasco that was all Khrushchev's fault.<ref> Michael Dobbs, ''One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War'' (2008).</ref>
  
 
===Test Ban Treaty===
 
===Test Ban Treaty===
Line 34: Line 34:
 
==Domestic issues==
 
==Domestic issues==
 
===Destalinization===
 
===Destalinization===
Khrushchev denounced Stalin as soon as he died and tried to purge all memory ofDétente Stalin (“destaDétentelinization”).  The glasnost had to be controlled lest it get out of hand.  By blaming his predecessor for all of Russia's ills Khrushchev bought time to reform the system.  He ended the worst features of the Gulag and mass executions, while maintaining a high enough fear level in people's minds to keep the wheels turning.
+
Khrushchev denounced Stalin in 1956 in one of the most spectacular and detailed speeches in world history.  The secrets were out but this new "glasnost" had to be controlled lest it get out of hand, for the Stalin era was built on deceit, disinformation, and false allegations up and down the line and everyone shared in the guilt, especially Khrushchev himselfHundreds of thousands of loyal Russians had been shot as "spies" to satisfy Stalin's paranoia. By blaming his predecessor for all of Russia's ills Khrushchev bought time to reform the system.  He ended the worst features of the Gulag and mass executions, and brought back many from Siberia, while maintaining a high enough fear level in people's minds to keep the wheels turning. As for the memories of Stalin, that was solved by erasing him from history--his name was never mentioned, his image never seen--and instead filling the media and the minds with the glorious heroics of the Great Patriotic War against Germany. <ref> Cynthia  Hooper, "What Can and Cannot Be Said: Between the Stalinist Past and New Soviet Future," ''Slavonic & East European Review'' 2008 86(2): 306-327,</ref>
 +
 
 +
Khrushchev did not realize that "glasnost" would get people thinking outside Russia.  One unexpected result was the uprising a year later in Hungary that had to be crushed by the Russian army. The revelations were a devastating blow to international Communism worldwide, especially as intellectuals and artists discovered they had been duped into blind support for a monster. The Chinese moved into the vacuum, idealizing Mao and setting up rival Communist parties in most countries.
 +
 
 +
Realizing he had allowed too much freedom for Communism to survive, Khrushchev shut down the "cultural thaw" that had begun. He closed the magazines in Moscow that had started to honestly describe and analyze Soviet society. The writers, musicians and artists were put under firmer control.  [[Boris Pasternak]], winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1958 for his novel ''Doctor Zhivago'' was ostracized as a Judas.<ref> Taubman (2003) pp 383-88</ref>
 
===Agricultural reform===
 
===Agricultural reform===
 
[[File:Red-farms.jpg|thumb|260px|Herblock laughs at the hair growers]]
 
[[File:Red-farms.jpg|thumb|260px|Herblock laughs at the hair growers]]
 
Khrushchev's favorite project was to till the virgin and long-fallow lands of Kazakhstan and nearby Soviet republics in order to increase the USSR's agricultural production, especially of grain. Despite his belief that scientific socialism could overcome all obstacles, the task proved far more immense and complex than the authorities had anticipated; the results were mostly failures, although some local achievements were attained.<ref> Taubman (2003) p 305-6</ref>
 
Khrushchev's favorite project was to till the virgin and long-fallow lands of Kazakhstan and nearby Soviet republics in order to increase the USSR's agricultural production, especially of grain. Despite his belief that scientific socialism could overcome all obstacles, the task proved far more immense and complex than the authorities had anticipated; the results were mostly failures, although some local achievements were attained.<ref> Taubman (2003) p 305-6</ref>
 +
===Urban Russia===
 +
Khrushchev presided over the construction of millions small drab, poorly built apartments for 108 million residents. Most were 5-story walkups (elevators were too expensive for the poor nation); people called them "Krushchoby" (combining his name with the word for slums).  The apartments boosted his popularity because they marked a dramatic improvement over the horrid housing they previously enjoyed, and led to a form of "ownership" whereby tenants were locked into their specific apartment with very little opportunity to move around--rather like rent controlled apartments in New York at the same time.<ref>Taubman (2003), p 382;  Mark B.  Smith,  "Individual Forms of Ownership in the Urban Housing Fund of the USSR, 1944-64," ''Slavonic & East European Review'' 2008 86(2): 283-305, </ref>
 
===Space race===
 
===Space race===
  
 
===Religion===
 
===Religion===
Under Lenin and Stalin before 1939 all churches were persecuted and ridiculed; there was a pause during World War II. Khrushchev was no friend of the [[Orthodox Church]], and greatly increased persecution in the late 1950s because he identified it with old-fashioned superstitions that would slow his schemes for the rapid modernization of agriculture. Khrushchev had the Central Committee of the Communist Party in 1954 issued a secret resolution, "On the Serious Defects in Scientific-Atheist Propaganda and Measures for the Improvement Thereof," which demanded new and more scientific standards of struggle against religion. An antireligious campaign, the exact causes and chain of command of which are still debatable, was launched in the second half of the 1950s, and systematic efforts were used to fight not just priests and churches but the personal faith of believers--he wanted to reach the very essence of the people's religiousness in order to cure them.  The campaign perhaps worked in Latvia, which did give up Lutheranism. In Russia, however, at the local level cures were few. More often, ways were found in which religion and the Soviet system could coexist. The Party found it expedient to ignore religious activity that did not interfere with technological improvements, and the peasants and workers found quiet ways to ensure their religious practices were compatible with participation in the new society. Outward repression like the closing of churches and the prohibition of pilgrimages occurred but were not enough to attain the primary goal of replacing the religious person in rural Russia with the Soviet person.  He predicted the end of Christianity in the Soviet Union and boasted that the last Christian would be paraded on Soviet television within a few years.<ref>http://www.ruvr.ru/main.php?lng=eng&q=2462&cid=125&p=22.05.2006</ref> In fact, Christianity outlasted Khrushchev, and even outlived Communism in Russia.  He tried to change the soul of Russia and failed.<ref>Andrew B. Stone,"'Overcoming Peasant Backwardness': the Khrushchev Antireligious Campaign and the Rural Soviet Union," ''Russian Review'' 2008 67(2): 296-320, </ref>  
+
Under Lenin and Stalin before 1939 all churches were persecuted and ridiculed; there was a pause during World War II. Khrushchev was no friend of the [[Orthodox Church]], and greatly increased persecution in the late 1950s because he identified it with old-fashioned superstitions that would slow his schemes for the rapid modernization of agriculture. Khrushchev had the Central Committee of the Communist Party in 1954 issued a secret resolution, "On the Serious Defects in Scientific-Atheist Propaganda and Measures for the Improvement Thereof," which demanded new and more scientific standards of struggle against religion. An antireligious campaign, the exact causes and chain of command of which are still debatable, was launched in the second half of the 1950s, and systematic efforts were used to fight not just priests and churches but the personal faith of believers--he wanted to reach the very essence of the people's religiousness in order to cure them.  The campaign perhaps worked in Latvia, which did give up Lutheranism. In Russia, however, at the local level cures were few. More often, ways were found in which religion and the Soviet system could coexist. The Party found it expedient to ignore religious activity that did not interfere with technological improvements, and the peasants and workers found quiet ways to ensure their religious practices were compatible with participation in the new society. Outward repression like the closing of churches and the prohibition of pilgrimages occurred but were not enough to attain the primary goal of replacing the religious person in rural Russia with the Soviet person.  He predicted the end of Christianity in the Soviet Union and boasted that the last Christian would be paraded on Soviet television within a few years.<ref>http://www.ruvr.ru/main.php?lng=eng&q=2462&cid=125&p=22.05.2006</ref> In fact, Christianity outlasted Khrushchev, and even outlived Communism in Russia.  He tried to change the soul of Russia and failed.<ref>Andrew B. Stone, "'Overcoming Peasant Backwardness': the Khrushchev Antireligious Campaign and the Rural Soviet Union," ''Russian Review'' 2008 67(2): 296-320, </ref>  
 
==Communist lands==
 
==Communist lands==
 
===Hungary===
 
===Hungary===
Line 49: Line 55:
 
[[File:~nikita.jpg|thumb|310px]]
 
[[File:~nikita.jpg|thumb|310px]]
 
==Overthrown==
 
==Overthrown==
By late 1964 Kremlin leaders were troubled by Khrushchev's irascible and self-contradictory behavior; he had been weakened by the Cuban Missile Crisis and his split with China,  but there was no orderly way to change rulers. Top conspirators included [[Leonid Brezhnev]], Aleksei Kosygin, Nikolai Podgorny, Mikhail Suslov; they acted in a bloodless coup to remove Khrushchev from his government and party positions in October 1964. They persuaded the [[Politburo]], which governed the Communist Party, to replace KhrushchevStates with Brezhnev. Khruschev then quietly lived out the remainder of his life under the watch of the [[KGB]] until his death in 1971. He managed to smuggle out his memoirs for publication in the West.
+
By late 1964 Kremlin leaders were troubled by Khrushchev's irascible and self-contradictory behavior; he had been weakened by the Cuban Missile Crisis and his split with China,  but there was no orderly way to change rulers. Top conspirators included [[Leonid Brezhnev]], Aleksei Kosygin, Nikolai Podgorny, Mikhail Suslov; they acted in a bloodless coup to remove Khrushchev from his government and party positions in October 1964. They persuaded the [[Politburo]], which governed the Communist Party, to replace Khrushchev with Brezhnev. Khrushchev then quietly lived out the remainder of his life under the watch of the [[KGB]] until his death in 1971. He managed to smuggle out his memoirs for publication in the West.
  
 
==We will bury you==
 
==We will bury you==
Line 60: Line 66:
  
 
==External link==
 
==External link==
*[http://www.richardsorge.com/appendixes/beria/translation.html Gianni Agnelli quoted on Khruschev], 11 May 2003.
+
*[http://www.richardsorge.com/appendixes/beria/translation.html Gianni Agnelli quoted on Khrushchev], 11 May 2003.
  
 
==Further reading==
 
==Further reading==
Line 74: Line 80:
 
* Tompson, William J. ''Khrushchev: A Political Life'' (1997) [http://www.amazon.com/Khrushchev-Political-William-J-Tompson/dp/0312163606/ref=sr_1_39?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255060227&sr=1-39 excerpt and text search]
 
* Tompson, William J. ''Khrushchev: A Political Life'' (1997) [http://www.amazon.com/Khrushchev-Political-William-J-Tompson/dp/0312163606/ref=sr_1_39?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255060227&sr=1-39 excerpt and text search]
 
* Von Bencke, Matthew J. ''The Politics of Space: A History of U.S.-Soviet/Russian Competition and Cooperation in Space'' (1997) [http://www.questia.com/read/65419161?title=The%20Politics%20of%20Space%3a%20A%20History%20of%20U.S.-Soviet%2fRussian%20Competition%20and%20Cooperation%20in%20Space online edition]
 
* Von Bencke, Matthew J. ''The Politics of Space: A History of U.S.-Soviet/Russian Competition and Cooperation in Space'' (1997) [http://www.questia.com/read/65419161?title=The%20Politics%20of%20Space%3a%20A%20History%20of%20U.S.-Soviet%2fRussian%20Competition%20and%20Cooperation%20in%20Space online edition]
* Zubok. Vladislav M. ''A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev'' (2007) [http://www.amazon.com/Failed-Empire-Soviet-Gorbachev-History/dp/0807830984/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255061323&sr=1-1 excerpt and text search]
+
* Zubok, Vladislav M. ''A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev'' (2007) [http://www.amazon.com/Failed-Empire-Soviet-Gorbachev-History/dp/0807830984/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255061323&sr=1-1 excerpt and text search]
  
  

Revision as of 13:58, 9 October 2009

Nikita Khrushchev (1894 - 1971) was a Russian Communist who seized power as dictator over the Soviet Union when Joseph Stalin died in 1953, and lasted until he was ousted in 1964. It was the height of the Cold War between the Soviet bloc and the United States and its allies. One of the most colorful world leaders of the 20th century, he always identified with the peasant--and indeed he was crude, unsophisticated, earthy, and brutal, as well as energetic, shrewd and determined. He really did hammer his shoe on the table at the United Nations when he disagreed with a speaker. He exposed and ended some of the arbitrary cruelty of Stalin in order to unleash what he thought was the scientific prowess of socialism, but apart from launching the world's first satellite into space, he never found the magic technological fix for Russia's ills, and instead came dangerously close to war with both the Americans and the Chinese. His leadership of the Communist bloc in the Cold War was so dangerous he had to be removed by his subordinates.

File:Khrush-1961.jpg
Khrushchev liked to threaten and bully; Time Sept. 8, 1961

Career

Born to a poor peasant family, he left school at 14 and followed his father to work in a distant mines. He was a working-class youth during an era of dramatic industrial growth, world war and civil war. Joining the Communist Party in 1918 (rather late compared to other leaders) he rose rapidly through the ranks, becoming boss first of Moscow then of all Ukraine. He played a major role in building the Moscow subway--one system that works well in Russia to this day--and in starving the kulaks who owned a few acres. Returning in 1938 to Ukraine, he was regional boss for twelve years. The Ukraine was a main theater of war and he was political commissar at the front 1941-45. He return to Stalin's side in Moscow in 1949 in charge of agriculture, always the most essential and backward part of the economy.

Coming to Power, 1953

After Stalin's death in 1953, Khrushchev and premier Georgi Malenkov united their networks against Soviet security chief Lavrenti Beria. The defection of two of Beria's deputy ministers, Sergei Kruglov and Ivan Serov, allowed Khrushchev and Malenkov to arrest Beria for Beria no longer had control of Ministry of Interior troops and the troops of the Kremlin guard. Beria was shot. By 1957 he had consolidated his dictatorship by building a network of loyalists among oblast secretaries, which enabled him to win victory in the Central Committee over the "anti-party group" of Malenkov, Vyacheslav Molotov, and Lazar Kaganovich. Officially he was First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964 and Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers from 1958 to 1964. He lived in a Kremlin apartment with his wife Nina and their children.

Foreign policy

Khrushchev handled foreign policy poorly. He had to preserve control of Eastern Europe--persuasion failed and he sent in his army. Second, he had to maintain the unity of the world Communist movement, which turned above all on relations with China. He failed and made his most important ally into his most implacable foe. Finally he had to de-escalate tensions and reach equilibrium with the United States. He instead tried confrontation, leading to near disaster in 1964 until he drew back at the last second over Cuba. More successful was his quest for prestige which centered on the Space Race--where the Soviets astonished the world by taking a clear lead over the U.S. for a few years.

Relations with U.S.

Khrushchev and Kennedy at the Vienna Summit in 1961.

Khrushchev met with President Kennedy during Kennedy's first year in office at the Vienna Summit of 1961. Journalist James Reston wrote afterward,

Kennedy went there shortly after his spectacular blunders at the Bay of Pigs, and was savaged by Khrushchev.... I had an hour alone with President Kennedy immediately after his last meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna at that time...Khrushchev had assumed, Kennedy said, that any American President who invaded Cuba without adequate preparation was inexperienced, and any president who then didn't use force to see the invasion through was weak. Kennedy admitted Khrushchev's logic on both points.
Khrushchev cooks up trouble for the West, looking to see where unrest will boil over

Seeing Kennedy's indecisiveness, he ordered the building of the Berlin Wall in 1962 to stop the exodus of talent from East Germany to freedom. Kennedy made some speeches then accommodated to the new tyranny. Emboldened, the Soviets expanded their subversion in weak nations, knowing that the American containment policy would force the West to defend itself under the most adverse conditions, as selected by the Kremlin. Sums were spread widely to see where trouble would best brew.

Cuban Missile Crisis

see Cuban Missile Crisis Much more serious was his miscalculations on Cuba, which he feared would be invaded by Americans. As the Kennedy Administration developed a first-strike strategy and a nuclear superiority capable of delivering it, Khrushchev sought to parry the American advantage by installing short-range Soviet warheads in Cuba. Stunned to discover the missiles, Washington demanded their removal and through a naval blockade around the island. Khrushchev seems not to have consulted his advisors, but at last relented and took out the missiles and nuclear weapons, winning a public promise that the U.S. would never invade Cuba. He also got the Americans to secretly remove their nuclear missiles from Turkey and Italy. His recklessness troubled other Kremlin leaders, who saw the Cuban episode as a fiasco that was all Khrushchev's fault.[1]

Test Ban Treaty

A fragile détente began after the missile crisis was resolved that helped the two sides to agree to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963. Khrushchev's political weakness after his Cuban fiasco was the main obstacle. By April 1963 - three months before US president John F. Kennedy's conciliatory speech at American University that is usually regarded as the turning point - the Soviet leader became committed to the treaty in principle. Discord within the Communist world prevented action until efforts to mend the rift with China collapsed, underscoring the need for a successful agreement with the West. Once the treaty was signed, however, the two sides failed to build on their common accomplishment and got bogged down by political issues that divided them. The opportunity for a deeper détente and a comprehensive test ban was lost because the Soviets had to seek to undermine capitalism in the west and Mao's challenge in the East.[2]

The Sputnik in 1957 was the greatest triumph of Soviet technology

China

Khrushchev badly mishandled China--first delivering generous aid, far beyond what his colleagues wanted or he had budgeted, even promising a transfer of a nuclear bomb; then swinging to the opposite extreme, suddenly withdrawing all Soviet technicians and canceling works in progress. The issue however was deeper than the foolish diplomacy of two rival dictators. China was bigger, older, more cultured and resented the upstart Russians who flaunted their greater wealth and more powerful weapons. Relations drastically worsened from Khrushchev's September 1959 visit to Beijing through the breakdown of compromise in October 1961. Each party sought to appeal to the world as the legitimate party of proletarian internationalism and anti-capitalist revolution. Specific areas of disagreement included the Moscow's refusal to support China in its border conflict with India, which was becoming a Soviet ally. Beijing worried about of Moscow's willingness to talk disarmament with the United States, with the possible threat of a Soviet-American alliance against China. Mao had aggressive plans for advancing Marxist-Leninist goals in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and conflict with Soviet agents in those places was inevitable. Indeed, after 1960 the pro-Moscow and pro-Beijing factions emerged in most Communist parties and sharply weakened them.[3]

Domestic issues

Destalinization

Khrushchev denounced Stalin in 1956 in one of the most spectacular and detailed speeches in world history. The secrets were out but this new "glasnost" had to be controlled lest it get out of hand, for the Stalin era was built on deceit, disinformation, and false allegations up and down the line and everyone shared in the guilt, especially Khrushchev himself. Hundreds of thousands of loyal Russians had been shot as "spies" to satisfy Stalin's paranoia. By blaming his predecessor for all of Russia's ills Khrushchev bought time to reform the system. He ended the worst features of the Gulag and mass executions, and brought back many from Siberia, while maintaining a high enough fear level in people's minds to keep the wheels turning. As for the memories of Stalin, that was solved by erasing him from history--his name was never mentioned, his image never seen--and instead filling the media and the minds with the glorious heroics of the Great Patriotic War against Germany. [4]

Khrushchev did not realize that "glasnost" would get people thinking outside Russia. One unexpected result was the uprising a year later in Hungary that had to be crushed by the Russian army. The revelations were a devastating blow to international Communism worldwide, especially as intellectuals and artists discovered they had been duped into blind support for a monster. The Chinese moved into the vacuum, idealizing Mao and setting up rival Communist parties in most countries.

Realizing he had allowed too much freedom for Communism to survive, Khrushchev shut down the "cultural thaw" that had begun. He closed the magazines in Moscow that had started to honestly describe and analyze Soviet society. The writers, musicians and artists were put under firmer control. Boris Pasternak, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1958 for his novel Doctor Zhivago was ostracized as a Judas.[5]

Agricultural reform

Herblock laughs at the hair growers

Khrushchev's favorite project was to till the virgin and long-fallow lands of Kazakhstan and nearby Soviet republics in order to increase the USSR's agricultural production, especially of grain. Despite his belief that scientific socialism could overcome all obstacles, the task proved far more immense and complex than the authorities had anticipated; the results were mostly failures, although some local achievements were attained.[6]

Urban Russia

Khrushchev presided over the construction of millions small drab, poorly built apartments for 108 million residents. Most were 5-story walkups (elevators were too expensive for the poor nation); people called them "Krushchoby" (combining his name with the word for slums). The apartments boosted his popularity because they marked a dramatic improvement over the horrid housing they previously enjoyed, and led to a form of "ownership" whereby tenants were locked into their specific apartment with very little opportunity to move around--rather like rent controlled apartments in New York at the same time.[7]

Space race

Religion

Under Lenin and Stalin before 1939 all churches were persecuted and ridiculed; there was a pause during World War II. Khrushchev was no friend of the Orthodox Church, and greatly increased persecution in the late 1950s because he identified it with old-fashioned superstitions that would slow his schemes for the rapid modernization of agriculture. Khrushchev had the Central Committee of the Communist Party in 1954 issued a secret resolution, "On the Serious Defects in Scientific-Atheist Propaganda and Measures for the Improvement Thereof," which demanded new and more scientific standards of struggle against religion. An antireligious campaign, the exact causes and chain of command of which are still debatable, was launched in the second half of the 1950s, and systematic efforts were used to fight not just priests and churches but the personal faith of believers--he wanted to reach the very essence of the people's religiousness in order to cure them. The campaign perhaps worked in Latvia, which did give up Lutheranism. In Russia, however, at the local level cures were few. More often, ways were found in which religion and the Soviet system could coexist. The Party found it expedient to ignore religious activity that did not interfere with technological improvements, and the peasants and workers found quiet ways to ensure their religious practices were compatible with participation in the new society. Outward repression like the closing of churches and the prohibition of pilgrimages occurred but were not enough to attain the primary goal of replacing the religious person in rural Russia with the Soviet person. He predicted the end of Christianity in the Soviet Union and boasted that the last Christian would be paraded on Soviet television within a few years.[8] In fact, Christianity outlasted Khrushchev, and even outlived Communism in Russia. He tried to change the soul of Russia and failed.[9]

Communist lands

Hungary

When the Hungarians revolted against Communism in 1956, and the Hungarian army refused to shoot on the crowds, Khrushchev sent in Field Marshall Ivan Konev and the Soviet combat army to suppress the revolt. The fired into the apartment buildings, reducing them to rubble, entombing man, woman and child[10] He executed the Hungarian leader Imre Nagy and replaced him with a pro-Soviet puppet.


~nikita.jpg

Overthrown

By late 1964 Kremlin leaders were troubled by Khrushchev's irascible and self-contradictory behavior; he had been weakened by the Cuban Missile Crisis and his split with China, but there was no orderly way to change rulers. Top conspirators included Leonid Brezhnev, Aleksei Kosygin, Nikolai Podgorny, Mikhail Suslov; they acted in a bloodless coup to remove Khrushchev from his government and party positions in October 1964. They persuaded the Politburo, which governed the Communist Party, to replace Khrushchev with Brezhnev. Khrushchev then quietly lived out the remainder of his life under the watch of the KGB until his death in 1971. He managed to smuggle out his memoirs for publication in the West.

We will bury you

On November 18, 1956 Khrushchev said, in regard to the West, "We will bury you". This caused a great deal of consternation within the Western world during the time of the Cold War between the nuclear powers and the Soviet Union's recent stamping out of resistance in Hungary through military force. He later said he meant it economically.[11] He actually believed that it was possible to overtake the U.S. in the production of meat, butter and milk. What happened was that urbanization was bringing millions of peasants from jobs of low productivity on the farm to jobs of much better productivity in the cities, though still at levels well below western Europe and the U.S. The result was a temporary boost in very high growth rates that leveled off after so may people had quit the farms that food shortages loomed. Khrushchev was a true believer in Communism; his son Sergei is now an American citizen.

Evaluation

Historians are still puzzled about some basic questions. As William Taubman has asked, Foreword, many questions remain unanswered. "How did Khrushchev manage not only to survive Stalin but to succeed him? What led him to denounce his former master? How could a man of minimal formal education direct the affairs of a vast intercontinental empire in the nuclear age? Why did Khrushchev's attempt to ease East-West tensions result in two of the worst crises of the Cold War in Berlin and Cuba?"[12]


External link

Further reading

  • Beschloss, Michael R. The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963 (1991)
  • Florinsky, Michael T. McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet Union (1961) online edition
  • Fursenko, Aleksandr, and Timothy Naftali. One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964 (1997) online edition
  • Fursenko, Aleksandr, and Timothy Naftali. Khrushchev's Cold War: The Inside Story of an American Adversary (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Kaldor, Nicholas, et al. Khrushchev--A Political Life (1989) online edition
  • Keep, John L. H. Last of the Empires: A History of the Soviet Union, 1945-1991 (1996) online edition
  • McCauley. Martin. The Khrushchev Era 1953-1964 (1995), excerpt and text search
  • Mastny, Vojtech, and Malcolm Byrne. A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991 (2005) online edition
  • Taubman, William. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (2003), 896pp; outstanding, balanced biography; Pulitzer prize; the best place to start excerpt and text search
  • Tompson, William J. Khrushchev: A Political Life (1997) excerpt and text search
  • Von Bencke, Matthew J. The Politics of Space: A History of U.S.-Soviet/Russian Competition and Cooperation in Space (1997) online edition
  • Zubok, Vladislav M. A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (2007) excerpt and text search


Primary sources

  • Khrushchev, Nikita. Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, edited by his son Sergei N. Khrushchev
    • Volume 1: Commissar, 1918–1945 (2004) 1004pp contents
    • Volume 2: Reformer, 1945–1964 (2006) 896pp contents
    • Volume 3: Statesman, 1953–1964 (2007), 1176pp contents
  • Khrushchev Remembers (1970), ed. by Strobe Talbot; summary of the very candid memoirs
  • "Russia: A Bang in Asia," Time Sept. 8, 1961, cover story on Khrushchev

References

  1. Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (2008).
  2. Vojtech Mastny, "The 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty: a Missed Opportunity for Detente?" Journal of Cold War Studies 2008 10(1): 3-25,
  3. Danhui Li and Yafeng Xia, "Competing for Leadership: Split or Detente in the Sino-soviet Bloc, 1959-1961," International History Review, 2008 30(3): 545-574,
  4. Cynthia Hooper, "What Can and Cannot Be Said: Between the Stalinist Past and New Soviet Future," Slavonic & East European Review 2008 86(2): 306-327,
  5. Taubman (2003) pp 383-88
  6. Taubman (2003) p 305-6
  7. Taubman (2003), p 382; Mark B. Smith, "Individual Forms of Ownership in the Urban Housing Fund of the USSR, 1944-64," Slavonic & East European Review 2008 86(2): 283-305,
  8. http://www.ruvr.ru/main.php?lng=eng&q=2462&cid=125&p=22.05.2006
  9. Andrew B. Stone, "'Overcoming Peasant Backwardness': the Khrushchev Antireligious Campaign and the Rural Soviet Union," Russian Review 2008 67(2): 296-320,
  10. See You Can Trust the Communists - To Be Communists, by Dr. Fred Schwarz
  11. http://www.bartleby.com/66/52/32552.html
  12. William Taubman. forward to Sergei N. Khrushchev, Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower (2000)