Khrushchev (1894 –1971)
April 15, 1894 in Kalinovka, a village in
what is now Russia's Kursk Oblast, near the present Ukrainian border
His parents, Sergei Khrushchev and Ksenia Khrushcheva, were poor peasants of Russian
skilled metal worker during WWI, he
married the daughter of a mine elevator operator (who would die in the
Civil War); elected to the worker's council (or soviet) in Rutchenkovo, he joins the Bolsheviks in 1918; in
1919 he was mobilized into the Red Army as a political commissar to a
construction platoon, then a construction battalion.
1921, the civil war ended, and Khrushchev was demobilized and assigned
as commissar to a labor brigade at
mine in the Donbas region of the Ukraine where he was highly
successful; in mid-1922, he was appointed party secretary of the
technical college (tekhnikum)
in Yuzovka, and even though he never
received a formal education, he became a member of the bureau — the
governing council — of the party committee.
mid-1925, Khrushchev was appointed Party secretary of the Petrovo-Marinsky raikom or district in which Rutchenkovo
(now named Stalino) resided; in late 1925,
Khrushchev was elected a non-voting delegate to the 14th Congress of
the USSR Communist Party in Moscow.
became a protégé of Lazar Kaganovich,
Stalin’s man in the Ukrainian Communist leadrership.
was transferred to Kharkov, then the
capital of Ukraine and then to Kiev
1929 he enrolls in Stalin Industrial Academy. 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. 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the delegates to be withdrawn, and afterward purging the cell of the
1932, Khrushchev had followed Kakanovich to Moscow and had become second in
command of the Moscow city Party organization. That
same year he met Stalin.
1934, he became Party leader for the city and a member of the Party's
1934 while head of the Moscow city organization, Khrushchev
superintended construction of the Moscow Metro.
1935 selected as Party leader for Moscow oblast, a province with a
population of 11 million
Khrushchev implemented Joseph Stalin's purges
the 38 top Party officials in Moscow city and province, 35 were killed;
of the 146 Party secretaries of cities and districts outside Moscow
city in the province, only 10 survived.
became a candidate member of the Politburo in January 1938 and a full
member in March 1939
appointed Khrushchev as head of the Communist Party in Ukraine in 1939
and Khrushchev continued extensive purges there.
1939 Khrushchev accompanied Soviet troops, pursuant to the
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, during the invasion of eastern
Poland while the Wehrmacht took the Western Poland,
falls to the Germans and 600,000 troops are taken prisoner…
attack at Kharkov fails and 250,000 are lost or killed
. Khrushchev is recalled to Mosow
and then reassigned to Stalingrad in August 1942 and participates in
son Leonid, a fighter pilot, was shot down and killed in action on
March 11, 1943
1943 he returns to Ukraine where one of every six people had died in
increase agricultural production, Khrushchev empowered the kolkhozes to
expel ‘unproductive’ residents.
1944 and 1946 he
put down the partisan Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA) killing 110,825
"bandits" and capturing a quarter million more
1946 Khrushchev resisted Stalin's orders to implement another induced
famine in the Ukraine, and in 1947 he was removed as party leader in
of Kaganovich, but by the end of 1947 he
1949 return to Moscow and the Central Committee
of the high-level work of government took place at dinners hosted by
Stalin. These sessions, which Beria, Malenkov, Khrushchev, Kaganovich, Kliment
Voroshilov, Vyacheslav Molotov, and
Bulganin, 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. Khrushchev did
so, later stating, "When Stalin says dance, a wise man dances.”
- In 1950
Khrushchev began a large-scale housing program for Moscow,
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. But the buildings lacked elevators or balconies, and
were nicknamed Khrushcheby
by the public, a pun on the Russian word for slums, trushcheby.
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.
allied with Malenkov and 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 Soviet power
struggle paid with his life.
presented himself as a down-to-earth activist prepared to take up any
challenge, contrasting with Malenkov who, though sophisticated, came
across as colorless. While both Malenkov
and Khrushchev sought reforms to agriculture, Khrushchev's proposals
were broader, and included the Virgin Lands Campaign, under which
hundreds of thousands of young volunteers would settle and farm areas
of Western Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan, initially politically
effective, a fiasco in later reality
- 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.
14, 1956, "Secret Speech": Khrushchev tells the delegates to the 20th Party
Congress in closed session about Stalin's crimes and then consolidates
his power by removing Malenkov and his faction.
1962, allows publication of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the
Life of Ivan Denisovich. Khrushchev begins
to shut down the gulag system.
Khrushchev, the special tribunals operated by security agencies were
abolished. There were no major
political trials under Khrushchev.
claimed that the Soviet model would make the people richer in the future:
Khrushchev ‘s motto: “Catch up with and surpass America!”
- On 4
October 1957 the Soviets launched Sputnik 1 into orbit
- On 12 April 1961Yuri Gargarin was the first human to journey into
outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft
completed an orbit of the Earth .
1959, during Nixon's visit to the Soviet Union, Khrushchev took part in
what later became known as the Kitchen Debate in which Nixon and
Khrushchev had an impassioned argument in a model kitchen at the
American National Exhibition 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 September 15, 1959. The
first visit by a Soviet premier to the United States resulted in an
extended media circus.
founded several academic towns, such as Akademgorodok.
The premier believed that Western science flourished because many
scientists lived in university towns such as Oxford, 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.
adviser to Khrushchev was Trofim Lysenko,
who promised greatly increased agricultural 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
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 (Rostov Region) this discontent escalated to a strike and
a revolt against the authorities. The revolt was put down by the
military. According to Soviet official accounts, 22 people were killed
and 87 wounded
Hungarian Uprising: A mass demonstration in Budapest on October 23
turned into a popular uprising. In response to the uprising, Hungarian
Party leaders installed reformist Premier Imre
Nagy. 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
- After the Berlin airlift, Khrushchev
authorized East German leader Walter Ulbricht to begin construction of
what became known as the Berlin Wall, 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
January 1960, despite tensions with the West, Khrushchev
ordered major cuts in conventional forces. He 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.
1962 Superpower tensions culminated in the Cuban missile crisis (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
(140 km) from the U.S. coast.
struck the Soviet Union in 1963; the harvest of 107,500,000 short tons
(97,500,000 t) of grain was down from a peak of 134,700,000 short
tons (122,200,000 t) in 1958. The shortages resulted in bread
in October 1964 coup and not killed; instead, he was pensioned off with
an apartment in Moscow and a dacha in the countryside.