179 Facts About Khrushchev


Khrushchev sponsored the early Soviet space program, and enactment of relatively liberal reforms in domestic policy.

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Khrushchev was born in 1894 in a village in western Russia.

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Khrushchev was employed as a metal worker during his youth, and he was a political commissar during the Russian Civil War.

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Khrushchev supported Joseph Stalin's purges and approved thousands of arrests.

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Khrushchev was present at the bloody defense of Stalingrad, a fact he took great pride in throughout his life.

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On 5 March 1953, Stalin's death triggered a power struggle in which Khrushchev emerged victorious upon consolidating his authority as First Secretary of the party's Central Committee.

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Khrushchev enjoyed strong support during the 1950s thanks to major victories like the Suez Crisis, the launching of Sputnik, the Syrian Crisis of 1957, and the 1960 U-2 incident.

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Khrushchev was born on 15 April 1894, in Kalinovka, a village in what is Russia's Kursk Oblast, near the present Ukrainian border.

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Sergei Khrushchev was employed in a number of positions in the Donbas area of far eastern Ukraine, working as a railwayman, as a miner, and laboring in a brick factory.

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Wages were much higher in the Donbas than in the Kursk region, and Sergei Khrushchev generally left his family in Kalinovka, returning there when he had enough money.

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Khrushchev was schooled for a total of four years, part in the village school and part under Shevchenko's tutelage in Kalinovka's state school.

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Khrushchev urged Nikita to seek further education, but family finances did not permit this.

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Khrushchev lost that job when he collected money for the families of the victims of the Lena Goldfields massacre, and was hired to mend underground equipment by a mine in nearby Ruchenkovo, where his father was the union organizer, and he helped distribute copies and organize public readings of Pravda.

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Khrushchev later stated that he considered emigrating to the United States for better wages, but did not do so.

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When World War I broke out in 1914, Khrushchev was exempt from conscription because he was a skilled metal worker.

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Khrushchev was employed by a workshop that serviced ten mines, and he was involved in several strikes that demanded higher pay, better working conditions, and an end to the war.

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Khrushchev did not join the Bolsheviks until 1918, a year in which the Russian Civil War, between the Bolsheviks and a coalition of opponents known as the White Army, began in earnest.

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In 1921, the civil war ended, and Khrushchev was demobilized and assigned as commissar to a labor brigade in the Donbas, where he and his men lived in poor conditions.

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Khrushchev helped restart the machines and he wore his old mine outfit for inspection tours.

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Khrushchev was highly successful at the Rutchenkovo mine, and in mid-1922 he was offered the directorship of the nearby Pastukhov mine.

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Khrushchev was more successful in advancing in the Communist Party; soon after his admission to the rabfak in August 1922, he was appointed party secretary of the entire tekhnikum, and became a member of the bureau—the governing council—of the party committee for the town of Yuzovka.

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Khrushchev briefly joined supporters of Leon Trotsky against those of Joseph Stalin over the question of party democracy.

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In mid-1925, Khrushchev was appointed Party secretary of the Petrovo-Marinsky raikom, or district, near Stalino.

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The raikom was about 400 square miles in area, and Khrushchev was constantly on the move throughout his domain, taking an interest in even minor matters.

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In late 1925, Khrushchev was elected a non-voting delegate to the 14th Congress of the USSR Communist Party in Moscow.

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Khrushchev was appointed second in command of Stalin's party apparatus in late 1926.

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In 1928, Khrushchev was transferred to Kiev, where he served as head of the organizational department, second-in-command of the Party organization there.

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In 1929, Khrushchev again sought to further his education, following Kaganovich to Moscow and enrolling in the Stalin Industrial Academy.

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Khrushchev never completed his studies there, but his career in the Party flourished.

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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 rightists.

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Khrushchev rose rapidly through the Party ranks, first becoming Party leader for the Bauman district, site of the Academy, before taking the same position in the Krasnopresnensky district, the capital's largest and most important.

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Khrushchev attributed his rapid rise to his acquaintance with fellow Academy student Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Stalin's wife.

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The Metro did not open until 1 May 1935, but Khrushchev received the Order of Lenin for his role in its construction.

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Khrushchev greatly admired the dictator and treasured informal meetings with him and invitations to Stalin's dacha, while Stalin felt warm affection for his young subordinate.

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Khrushchev assisted in the purge of many friends and colleagues in Moscow oblast.

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Khrushchev had no reason to think himself immune from the purges, and in 1937, confessed his own 1923 dalliance with Trotskyism to Kaganovich, who, according to Khrushchev, "blanched" and advised him to tell Stalin.

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The dictator took the confession in his stride, and, after initially advising Khrushchev to keep it quiet, suggested that Khrushchev tell his tale to the Moscow party conference.

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Khrushchev did so, to applause, and was immediately reelected to his post.

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Khrushchev related in his memoirs that he was denounced by an arrested colleague.

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Khrushchev speculated in his memoirs that had Stalin doubted his reaction, he would have been categorized as an enemy of the people then and there.

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Nonetheless, Khrushchev became a candidate member of the Politburo on 14 January 1938 and a full member in March 1939.

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Biographer William Taubman suggested that because Khrushchev was again unsuccessfully denounced while in Kiev, he must have known that some of the denunciations were not true and that innocent people were suffering.

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Khrushchev's role was to ensure that the occupied areas voted for union with the USSR.

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Stalin appointed him a political commissar, and Khrushchev served on a number of fronts as an intermediary between the local military commanders and the political rulers in Moscow.

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Stalin used Khrushchev to keep commanders on a tight leash, while the commanders sought to have him influence Stalin.

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However, Khrushchev noted in his memoirs that he and Marshal Semyon Budyonny proposed redeploying Soviet forces to avoid the encirclement until Marshal Semyon Timoshenko arrived from Moscow with orders for the troops to hold their positions.

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In 1942, Khrushchev was on the Southwest Front, and he and Timoshenko proposed a massive counteroffensive in the Kharkov area.

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Khrushchev reached the Stalingrad Front in August 1942, soon after the start of the battle for the city.

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In later years, Leonid Khrushchev's wingmate stated that he saw his plane disintegrate, but did not report it.

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Khrushchev was attached to Soviet troops at the Battle of Kursk, in July 1943, which turned back the last major German offensive on Soviet soil.

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Khrushchev related that he interrogated an SS defector, learning that the Germans intended an attack—a claim dismissed by his biographer Taubman as "almost certainly exaggerated".

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Khrushchev accompanied Soviet troops as they took Kiev in November 1943, entering the shattered city as Soviet forces drove out German troops.

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Khrushchev was appointed Premier of the Ukrainian SSR in addition to his earlier party post, one of the rare instances in which the Ukrainian party and civil leader posts were held by one person.

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Almost all of Ukraine had been occupied by the Germans, and Khrushchev returned to his domain in late 1943 to find devastation.

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Khrushchev sought to reconstruct Ukraine but desired to complete the interrupted work of imposing the Soviet system on it, though he hoped that the purges of the 1930s would not recur.

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Khrushchev rushed from district to district through Ukraine, urging the depleted labor force to greater efforts.

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Khrushchev made a short visit to his birthplace of Kalinovka, finding a starving population, with only a third of the men who had joined the Red Army having returned.

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Khrushchev viewed this policy as very effective and recommended its adoption elsewhere to Stalin.

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Khrushchev set the quotas at a high level, leading Stalin to expect an unrealistically large quantity of grain from Ukraine.

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Khrushchev, realizing the desperate situation in late 1946, repeatedly appealed to Stalin for aid, to be met with anger and resistance on the part of the leader.

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However, Khrushchev's political standing had been damaged, and in February 1947, Stalin suggested that Lazar Kaganovich be sent to Ukraine to "help" Khrushchev.

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However, Khrushchev's children remembered their father as having been seriously ill.

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Once Khrushchev was able to get out of bed, he and his family took their first vacation since before the war, to a beachfront resort in Latvia.

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Khrushchev then resigned the Ukrainian premiership in favor of Demyan Korotchenko, Khrushchev's protege.

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Collectivization advanced in Western Ukraine, and Khrushchev implemented more policies that encouraged collectivization and discouraged private farms.

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Khrushchev completed only one such town before his December 1949 return to Moscow; he dedicated it to Stalin as a 70th birthday present.

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From mid-December 1949, Khrushchev again served as head of the Party in Moscow city and province.

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Khrushchev had prefabricated reinforced concrete used, greatly speeding up construction.

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Khrushchev sought to implement his agro-town proposal, but when his lengthy speech on the subject was published in Pravda in March 1951, Stalin disapproved of it.

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Khrushchev feared that Stalin would remove him from office, but the leader mocked Khrushchev, then allowed the episode to pass.

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Khrushchev was relieved of his duties as Party head for Moscow to concentrate on unspecified duties in the Party's Central Committee.

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Khrushchev's name appeared atop a revised list of secretaries—indicating that he was now in charge of the party.

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Khrushchev allied with Malenkov to block many of Beria's proposals, while the two slowly picked up support from other Presidium members.

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Khrushchev sought public support by lowering retail prices and lowering the level of bond sales to citizens, which had long been effectively obligatory.

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Khrushchev saw that with the Presidium in conflict, the Party and its Central Committee might again become powerful.

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Khrushchev carefully cultivated high Party officials, and was able to appoint supporters as local Party bosses, who then took seats on the Central Committee.

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Khrushchev presented himself as a down-to-earth activist prepared to take up any challenge, contrasting with Malenkov who, though sophisticated, came across as colourless.

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Khrushchev arranged for the Kremlin grounds to be opened to the public, an act with "great public resonance".

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Khrushchev's influence continued to increase, winning the allegiance of local party heads, and with his nominee heading the KGB.

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Khrushchev's "secret speech" attack on Stalin in 1956 was a signal for abandoning Stalinist precepts and looking at new options, including more involvement in the Middle East.

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Khrushchev thought that would give the USSR world prestige, leading to quick Communist advances in the Third World.

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Khrushchev's policy was still restrained by the need to retain the support of the Presidium and to placate the inarticulate but restive Soviet masses who were thrilled by Sputnik but demanded a higher standard of living on the ground as well.

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Molotov opposed the Virgin Lands policy, instead proposing heavy investment to increase yields in developed agricultural areas, which Khrushchev felt was not feasible due to a lack of resources and a lack of a sophisticated farm labor force.

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Molotov was resistant, but Khrushchev arranged for an Austrian delegation to come to Moscow and negotiate the treaty.

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Khrushchev objected on the grounds that not all Presidium members had been notified, an objection which would have been quickly dismissed had Khrushchev not held firm control over the military, through Minister of Defense Marshal Zhukov, and the security departments.

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Khrushchev completed the consolidation of power by in March 1958 arranging for Bulganin's dismissal as premier in favor of himself and by establishing a USSR Defense Council, led by himself, effectively making him commander in chief.

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In 1958 Khrushchev ordered a fierce attack on Boris Pasternak after his novel Doctor Zhivago was published abroad.

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Khrushchev believed that the USSR could match the West's living standards, and was not afraid to allow Soviet citizens to see Western achievements.

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Khrushchev let Soviets travel and allowed foreigners to visit the Soviet Union, where tourists became subjects of immense curiosity.

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In 1957, Khrushchev authorized the 6th World Festival of Youth and Students to be held in Moscow that summer.

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Khrushchev instructed Komsomol officials to "smother foreign guests in our embrace".

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In 1962, Khrushchev, impressed by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, persuaded the Presidium to allow publication.

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That renewed thaw ended on 1 December 1962, when Khrushchev was taken to the Manezh Gallery to view an exhibit which included a number of avant-garde works.

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On seeing them, Khrushchev exploded with anger, an episode known as the Manege Affair, describing the artwork as "dog shit", and proclaiming that "a donkey could smear better art with its tail".

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The Manezh Gallery exhibit remained open for some time after Khrushchev's visit, and experienced a considerable rise in attendance after the article in Pravda.

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In 1958, Khrushchev opened a Central Committee meeting to hundreds of Soviet officials; some were even allowed to address the meeting.

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In 1962, Khrushchev divided oblast level Party committees into two parallel structures, one for industry and one for agriculture.

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Khrushchev ordered that one-third of the membership of each committee, from low-level councils to the Central Committee itself, be replaced at each election.

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Khrushchev was an expert on agricultural policies and sensed an urgent need to reform the backward, inefficient system with ideas that worked in the United States.

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Khrushchev looked especially at collectivism, state farms, liquidation of machine-tractor stations, planning decentralization, economic incentives, increased labor and capital investment, new crops, and new production programs.

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Khrushchev established a corn institute in Ukraine and ordered thousands of acres to be planted with corn in the Virgin Lands.

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In 1955, Khrushchev advocated an Iowa-style corn belt in the Soviet Union, and a Soviet delegation visited the US state that summer.

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Khrushchev sought to abolish the Machine-Tractor Stations which not only owned most large agricultural machines such as combines and tractors but provided services such as plowing, and transfer their equipment and functions to the kolkhozes and sovkhozes.

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Lysenko maintained his influence under Khrushchev, and helped block the adoption of American techniques.

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In 1959, Khrushchev announced a goal of overtaking the United States in the production of milk, meat, and butter.

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Reluctant to purchase food in the West, but faced with the alternative of widespread hunger, Khrushchev exhausted the nation's hard currency reserves and expended part of its gold stockpile in the purchase of grain and other foodstuffs.

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Khrushchev was unsuccessful, due to resistance from professors and students, who never actually disagreed with the premier, but who did not carry out his proposals.

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Khrushchev sought to duplicate those conditions in the Soviet Union.

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Khrushchev's attempt was generally successful, though his new towns and scientific centres tended to attract younger scientists, with older ones unwilling to leave Moscow or Leningrad.

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Khrushchev wanted to shift the focus of secondary schools to vocational training: students would spend much of their time at factory jobs or in apprenticeships and only a small part at the schools.

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Anti-religious campaign of the Khrushchev era began in 1959, coinciding with the 21st Party Congress in the same year.

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Khrushchev additionally banned all services held outside of churches' walls, renewed enforcement of 1929 legislation banning pilgrimages, and recorded the personal identities of all adults requesting church baptisms, weddings, or funerals.

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Khrushchev considered the entire Cold War to be a serious mistake on Stalin's part.

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Basically Khrushchev was much more optimistic about the future than Stalin or Molotov, and was more of an internationalist.

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Khrushchev believed the working classes and the common peoples of the world would eventually find their way towards socialism and even communism, and that conflicts like the Cold War diverted their attention from this eventual goal.

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In specific terms Khrushchev decided that Stalin had made a series of mistakes, such as heavy-handed pressure in Turkey and Iran in 1945 and 1946, and especially heavy pressure on Berlin that led to the failed Berlin blockade in 1948.

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Khrushchev was pleased that when Malenkov replaced Stalin in 1953 he spoke of better relations with the West, and with building ties to the Communist Party movements in imperialistic European colonies that would soon become independent nations across Africa and Asia.

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Khrushchev blamed Molotov for being unable to resolve the conflict with Yugoslavia, and largely ignoring the needs of the East European communist satellites.

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Khrushchev wisely chose Austria as a way to quickly come to agreement with NATO.

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When Khrushchev took control, the outside world still knew little of him, and initially was not impressed by him.

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Khrushchev could be charming or vulgar, ebullient or sullen, he was given to public displays of rage and to soaring hyperbole in his rhetoric.

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Khrushchev sought to find a lasting solution to the problem of a divided Germany and of the enclave of West Berlin deep within East German territory.

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At Britain's request, Khrushchev extended and ultimately dropped the ultimatum, as the Berlin issue became part of the complex agenda of high-level summit meetings.

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Khrushchev sought to sharply reduce levels of conventional weapons and to defend the Soviet Union with missiles.

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Khrushchev believed that without this transition, the huge Soviet military would continue to eat up resources, making Khrushchev's goals of improving Soviet life difficult to achieve.

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Khrushchev abandoned Stalin's plans for a large navy in 1955, believing that the new ships would be too vulnerable to either a conventional or nuclear attack.

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Campbell Craig and Sergey Radchenko argue that Khrushchev thought that policies like Mutually Assured Destruction were too dangerous for the Soviet Union.

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Khrushchev's approach did not greatly change his foreign policy or military doctrine but is apparent in his determination to choose options that minimized the risk of war.

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The Soviets had few operable intercontinental ballistic missiles ; in spite of this, Khrushchev publicly boasted of the Soviets' missile programs, stating that Soviet weapons were varied and numerous.

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The Soviet space program, which Khrushchev firmly supported, appeared to confirm his claims when the Soviets launched Sputnik 1 into orbit, a feat that astonished the world.

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Khrushchev added to this misapprehension by stating in an October 1957 interview that the USSR had all the rockets, of whatever capacity, that it needed.

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For years, Khrushchev would make a point of preceding a major foreign trip with a rocket launch, to the discomfiture of his hosts.

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In January 1960 Khrushchev told the Presidium that Soviet ICBMs made an agreement with the US possible because "main-street Americans have begun to shake from fear for the first times in their lives".

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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.

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Khrushchev made his first visit to the United States, arriving in Washington, on 15 September 1959, and spending thirteen days in the country.

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Khrushchev brought his wife, Nina Petrovna, and adult children with him, though it was not usual for Soviet officials to travel with their families.

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Khrushchev was to visit Disneyland, but the visit was canceled for security reasons, much to his disgruntlement.

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Khrushchev pushed for an immediate summit but was frustrated by French President Charles de Gaulle, who postponed it until 1960, a year in which Eisenhower was scheduled to pay a return visit to the Soviet Union.

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Content in what he thought was a strong personal relationship with Eisenhower, Khrushchev was confused and angered by the flights' resumption, and concluded that they had been ordered by CIA Director Allen Dulles without the US President's knowledge.

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Nikita Khrushchev planned to visit the US to meet President Eisenhower the visit was canceled when Soviet Air Defence Forces brought down the US U-2.

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The admission stunned Khrushchev and turned the U-2 affair from a possible triumph to a disaster for him, and he even appealed to US Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson for help.

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Khrushchev was undecided what to do at the summit even as he boarded his flight to Paris.

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Khrushchev finally decided, in consultation with his advisers on the plane and Presidium members in Moscow, to demand an apology from Eisenhower and a promise that there would be no further U-2 flights in Soviet airspace.

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Eisenhower accused Khrushchev "of sabotaging this meeting, on which so much of the hopes of the world have rested".

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Khrushchev made his second and final visit to the United States in September 1960.

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Khrushchev had no invitation but had appointed himself as head of the USSR's UN delegation.

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Khrushchev spent much of his time wooing the new Third World states which had recently become independent.

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Khrushchev was infuriated by a statement of the Filipino delegate Lorenzo Sumulong charging the Soviets with employing a double standard by decrying colonialism while dominating Eastern Europe.

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Khrushchev demanded the right to reply immediately and accused Sumulong of being "a fawning lackey of the American imperialists".

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Khrushchev yanked off his shoe and began banging it on his desk.

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Khrushchev considered US Vice President Nixon a hardliner and was delighted by his defeat in the 1960 presidential election.

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Khrushchev considered the victor, Massachusetts Senator John F Kennedy, as a far more likely partner for detente, but was taken aback by the newly inaugurated US President's tough talk and actions in the early days of his administration.

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Khrushchev achieved a propaganda victory in April 1961 with the first human spaceflight, while Kennedy suffered a defeat with the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion.

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Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles in exchange for a US promise not to invade Cuba and a secret promise that the US would withdraw missiles from Turkey, near the Soviet heartland.

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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.

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Khrushchev assumed that if Moscow announced liberalization in how it dealt with its allies, Nagy would adhere to the alliance with the Soviet Union.

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When questioned about the statement during his 1959 US visit, Khrushchev stated that he was not referring to a literal burial, but that, through inexorable historical development, communism would replace capitalism and "bury" it.

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Khrushchev greatly improved relations with Yugoslavia, which had been entirely sundered in 1948 when Stalin realized he could not control Yugoslav leader Josip Tito.

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Khrushchev was hampered by the fact that China disapproved of Yugoslavia's liberal version of communism, and attempts to conciliate Belgrade resulted in an angry Beijing.

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On his 1954 visit to China, Khrushchev agreed to return Port Arthur and Dalian to China, though Khrushchev was annoyed by Mao's insistence that the Soviets leave their artillery as they departed.

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When Khrushchev visited Beijing in 1958, Mao refused proposals for military cooperation.

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Brezhnev was given ample time for his conspiracy, as Khrushchev was absent from Moscow for a total of five months between January and September 1964.

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Conspirators, led by Brezhnev, First Deputy Premier Alexander Shelepin, and KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny, struck in October 1964, while Khrushchev was on vacation at Pitsunda, Abkhaz ASSR with his friend and Presidium colleague Anastas Mikoyan.

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Khrushchev arrived at the VIP hall of Vnukovo Airport; KGB chairman Semichastny waited for him there, flanked by KGB security guards.

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Khrushchev did not resist, and the plotters' coup went off smoothly; Khrushchev felt betrayed by Semichastny, as he considered him a friend and ally until that very moment, not suspecting that he had joined his enemies within the Party.

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Khrushchev was then taken to the Kremlin, to be verbally attacked by Brezhnev, Suslov and Shelepin.

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Khrushchev had no stomach for a fight, and put up little resistance.

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Khrushchev was granted a pension of 500 rubles per month and was given a house, a dacha and a car.

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Khrushchev received few visitors, especially since his security guards kept track of all guests and reported their comings and goings.

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Khrushchev's pension was reduced to 400 rubles per month, though his retirement remained comfortable by Soviet standards.

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One visitor whom Khrushchev regretted not seeing was former US Vice President Nixon, then in his "wilderness years" before his election to the presidency, who went to Khrushchev's Moscow apartment while the former premier was at his dacha.

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Khrushchev initially tried to dictate them into a tape recorder while outdoors, in an attempt to avoid eavesdropping by the KGB.

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The KGB made no attempt to interfere until 1968, when Khrushchev was ordered to hand over his tapes, which he refused to do.

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Sergei Khrushchev handed over the materials to the KGB since the KGB could steal the originals anyway, but copies had been made, some of which had been transmitted to a Western publisher.

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Under some pressure, Nikita Khrushchev signed a statement that he had not given the materials to any publisher, and his son was transferred to a less desirable job.

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Khrushchev died of a heart attack around noon in the Kremlin hospital in Moscow on 11 September 1971, at the age of 77.

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Khrushchev was denied a state funeral with interment in the Kremlin Wall and was instead buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

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Khrushchev let in fresh air and fresh ideas, producing changes which time already has shown are irreversible and fundamental.

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The Khrushchev era provided this second generation of reformers with both an inspiration and a cautionary tale.

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