Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeyevich

Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeyevich

(nyĭkē`tə syĭrgā`yəvĭch khro͝oschôf`), 1894–1971, Soviet Communist leader, premier of the USSR (1958–64), and first secretary of the Communist party of the Soviet Union (1953–64).

Early Career

Of a peasant family, he worked in the plants and mines of Ukraine, joined the Communist party in 1918, and in 1929 was sent to Moscow for further study. He became a member of the central committee of the Communist party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1934 and first secretary of the powerful Moscow city and regional party organization in 1935.

Made first secretary of the Ukrainian Communist party in 1938, he carried out Stalin's ruthless purge of its ranks. As a full member of the politburo, the ruling body of the central committee of the CPSU after 1939, Khrushchev was one of Stalin's close associates. In World War II he served on the military councils of several fronts. He was recalled from Ukraine to his Moscow post in 1949.

Soviet Leader

After the death of StalinStalin, Joseph Vissarionovich
, 1879–1953, Soviet Communist leader and head of the USSR from the death of V. I. Lenin (1924) until his own death, b. Gori, Georgia.
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 on Mar. 5, 1953, a "collective leadership" replaced the single ruler of the USSR; from the ensuing struggle for power Khrushchev emerged victorious. He replaced MalenkovMalenkov, Georgi Maksimilianovich
, 1902–88, Soviet Communist leader. He rose to prominence through the party secretariat and was a trusted aide of Joseph Stalin. In 1946, he became a full member of the politburo and a deputy premier. He succeeded Stalin as premier in Mar.
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 as first secretary of the party in Sept., 1953, and, in 1955, Malenkov resigned as premier and was succeeded by BulganinBulganin, Nikolai Aleksandrovich
, 1895–1975, Soviet military and political leader. He held posts in industrial management, was mayor of Moscow (1931–37) and chairman of the state bank (1937–41), and served on a military council in World War II.
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, a change clearly leaving Khrushchev with the advantage. In 1954 he initiated the virgin lands program to increase grain production and headed a delegation to China.

At the 20th All-Union Party Congress (1956), Khrushchev delivered a "secret" report on "The Personality Cult and Its Consequences," bitterly denouncing the rule, policies, and personality of Stalin. The program of destalinization, which had already begun, was supported and continued by Khrushchev. Legal procedures were restored, the secret police became less of a threat, concentration camps and many forced-labor camps were closed, and some greater degree of meaningful public controversy was permitted. The new atmosphere of relative freedom constituted a great change from the days of Stalin.

Destalinization had, however, repercussions in other Communist countries, creating unrest that exploded in the Polish defiance of the USSR in 1956 and in the quickly quelled Hungarian revolution of the same year. These events and the abandonment of the sixth Five-Year PlanFive-Year Plan,
Soviet economic practice of planning to augment agricultural and industrial output by designated quotas for a limited period of usually five years. Nations other than the former USSR and the Soviet bloc members, especially developing countries, have adopted such
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 weakened Khrushchev's position, but he gained strength in 1957 with his program for decentralization of industry. In 1957 a faction headed by Malenkov, MolotovMolotov, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich
, 1890–1986, Soviet political leader. A Communist from 1906, he changed his name from Skriabin to Molotov [the hammer] to escape the imperial police. He was, however, arrested and exiled in 1909. He returned (1911) to St.
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, and KaganovichKaganovich, Lazar Moiseyevich
, 1893–1991, Soviet Communist leader. A Jewish shoemaker and labor organizer, he joined the Communist party in 1911. A capable administrator, he rose quickly through the party ranks after the revolution, and by 1930 he had become Moscow party
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 tried in vain to remove Khrushchev from leadership; instead, they were removed from important posts, as, soon after, was ZhukovZhukov, Georgi Konstantinovich
, 1896–1974, Soviet marshal. He fought in the October Revolution (1917) and in the civil war (1918–20), which brought the Bolsheviks to power, and saw action against the Japanese on the Manchurian border (1938–39) and in the
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, who had supported Khrushchev against them.

Khrushchev replaced Bulganin as premier in Mar., 1958, becoming undisputed leader of both state and party. Jovial in manner and often deliberately uncouth, he showed himself capable of alternating belligerence with camaraderie. He soon was known throughout the world as a leader of great shrewdness, fully attuned to the realities of the international scene.

In foreign affairs Khrushchev's announced policy, the opposite of that of Stalin, was one of "peaceful coexistence" in the cold warcold war,
term used to describe the shifting struggle for power and prestige between the Western powers and the Communist bloc from the end of World War II until 1989. Of worldwide proportions, the conflict was tacit in the ideological differences between communism and
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. He toured the United States in 1959 and met with President Eisenhower at Camp David, Md., thus helping to ameliorate the international tensions created by his threat (1958) to sign a separate peace with East Germany. In 1960, however, Khrushchev canceled the Paris summit conference after a U.S. reconnaissance plane was shot down over the USSR. In the fall of 1960 he headed the Soviet delegation to the UN General Assembly, where he raged against UN interference in CongoCongo, Democratic Republic of the,
formerly Zaïre
, republic (2005 est. pop. 60,086,000), c.905,000 sq mi (2,344,000 sq km), central Africa. It borders on Angola in the southwest and west, on the Atlantic Ocean, Cabinda (an Angolan exclave), and the Republic of
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Khrushchev's policies at home and abroad involved him in an increasingly bitter struggle with China, whose Communist government continued to adhere to an ideology of international revolution. International tension was created by Khrushchev's adamant stand over BerlinBerlin
, city (1994 pop. 3,475,400), capital of Germany, coextensive with Berlin state (341 sq mi/883 sq km), NE Germany, on the Spree and Havel rivers. Formerly divided into East Berlin (156 sq mi/404 sq km) and West Berlin (185 sq mi/479 sq km), the city was reunified along
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, but was lessened somewhat by his withdrawal of Soviet missiles from CubaCuba
, officially Republic of Cuba, republic (2005 est. pop. 11,347,000), 42,804 sq mi (110,860 sq km), consisting of the island of Cuba and numerous adjacent islands, in the Caribbean Sea. Havana is the capital and largest city.
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 in 1962 and by small compromises in the Soviet proposals for disarmament.

In Oct., 1964, Khrushchev was removed from power. Repeated shortfalls in agricultural production and faulty administrative practices as well as Khrushchev's role in the Cuban Missile Crisis and the rift with China, had intensified the opposition to him. Thereafter he lived in obscurity outside Moscow until his death in 1971.

See also Union of Soviet Socialist RepublicsUnion of Soviet Socialist Republics
(USSR), Rus. Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik, former republic. It was established in 1922 and dissolved in 1991. The Soviet Union was the first state to be based on Marxist socialism (see also Marxism; communism).
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See biographies by R. A. and Z. A. Medvedev (1976) and W. Taubman (2003); S. Talbott, ed., Khrushchev Remembers (2 vol., tr. 1970–74); M. McCauley, ed., Khrushchev and Khrushchevism (1988); A. Fursenko and T. Naftali, Khrushchev's Cold War (2006).

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