Nikita Khrushchev

Leader of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev[lower-alpha 1] (15 April [O.S. 3 April] 1894 – 11 September 1971) was the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964 and chairman of the country's Council of Ministers from 1958 to 1964. During his rule, Khrushchev stunned the communist world with his denunciation of his predecessor Joseph Stalin's crimes, and embarked on a policy of de-Stalinization with his key ally Anastas Mikoyan. He sponsored the early Soviet space program, and enactment of moderate reforms in domestic policy. After some false starts, and a narrowly avoided nuclear war over Cuba, he conducted successful negotiations with the United States to reduce Cold War tensions. In 1964, the Kremlin leadership stripped him of power, replacing him with Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary and Alexei Kosygin as Premier.

Quick facts: Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Com...
Nikita Khrushchev
Никита Хрущёв
Nikita Khrushchev in East Berlin in June 1963 observing East German leader Walter Ulbricht's 70th birthday
First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
In office
14 September 1953  14 October 1964
Preceded byJoseph Stalin (as General Secretary)
Succeeded byLeonid Brezhnev
7th Premier of the Soviet Union
In office
27 March 1958  14 October 1964
PresidentKliment Voroshilov
Leonid Brezhnev
Anastas Mikoyan
First Deputies
Preceded byNikolai Bulganin
Succeeded byAlexei Kosygin
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine (Bolsheviks)
In office
26 December 1947  16 December 1949
Preceded byLazar Kaganovich
Succeeded byLeonid Melnikov
In office
27 January 1938  3 March 1947
Preceded byStanislav Kosior
Succeeded byLazar Kaganovich
Personal details
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev

(1894-04-15)15 April 1894
Kalinovka, Kursk Governorate, Russian Empire
Died11 September 1971(1971-09-11) (aged 77)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Resting placeNovodevichy Cemetery, Moscow
Political partyCPSU (1918–1964)
Yefrosinia Pisareva
(m. 1914; died 1919)

(m. 1965)
Alma materIndustrial Academy
See List
Military service
AllegianceSoviet Union
Branch/serviceRed Army
Years of service1941–45
RankLieutenant General
CommandsSoviet Armed Forces
Battles/warsWorld War II
Central institution membership

Other offices held

  • a While he was unable to consolidate control over the party apparatus, Malenkov was still recognized as "first among equals" for over a year after Stalin's death. As late as March 1954, he was listed as first in the Soviet leadership and continued to chair meetings of the Politburo.[1]

Khrushchev was born in 1894 in a village in western Russia. He was employed as a metal worker during his youth, and he was a political commissar during the Russian Civil War. Under the sponsorship of Lazar Kaganovich, he worked his way up the Soviet hierarchy. He supported Joseph Stalin's purges and approved thousands of arrests. In 1938, Stalin sent him to govern the Ukrainian SSR, and he continued the purges there. During what was known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War, Khrushchev was again a commissar, serving as an intermediary between Stalin and his generals. Khrushchev was present at the defense of Stalingrad, a fact he took great pride in throughout his life. After the war, he returned to Ukraine before being recalled to Moscow as one of Stalin's close advisers.

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. On 25 February 1956, at the 20th Party Congress, he delivered the "Secret Speech", which denounced Stalin's purges and ushered in a less repressive era in the Soviet Union. His domestic policies, aimed at bettering the lives of ordinary citizens, were often ineffective, especially in agriculture. Hoping eventually to rely on missiles for national defense, Khrushchev ordered major cuts in conventional forces. Despite the cuts, Khrushchev's time in office saw the tensest years of the Cold War, culminating in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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. By the early 1960s however, Khrushchev's popularity was eroded by flaws in his policies, as well as his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This emboldened his potential opponents, who quietly rose in strength and deposed him in October 1964. However, he did not suffer the deadly fate suffered by the losers of previous Soviet power struggles and was pensioned off with an apartment in Moscow and a dacha in the countryside. His lengthy memoirs were smuggled to the West and published in part in 1970. Khrushchev died in 1971 of a heart attack.