Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev

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Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev
Khrushchev's signature

Nikita Khrushchev ( Russian Никита Сергеевич Хрущёв [ nʲɪkʲitə sʲɪrgʲejɪvʲɪtʲɕ xruʃɕof ] listen ? / I , scientific. Transliteration Nikita Sergeevič Khrushchev , Eng. Transcription Nikita Khrushchev ; * 3 . Jul / 15. April 1894 greg. In Kalinovka , Ujesd Dmitriev , government Kursk , Russian Empire , today Kursk Oblast , Russia ; † September 11, 1971 in Moscow ) was a Soviet politician. Khrushchev was party leader of the CPSU from 1953 to 1964 and from 1958 to 1964 as chairman of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) of the Soviet Union . He was considered a clever power politician and master of socialist rhetoric . Audio file / audio sample  

After Stalin's death in March 1953, Malenkov was party leader (nominally first party secretary ) of the CPSU until September 1953, and Khrushchev succeeded him after a power struggle in office, which from 1966 was named general secretary. He headed the XX. CPSU party congress in 1956 introduced de-Stalinization through a risky secret speech . As the most influential Soviet politician, he also became Prime Minister in 1958 and initiated countless reforms, especially in social and economic policy , education and culture. In terms of foreign policy, he propagated peaceful coexistence with the West, but at the same time was its difficult counterpart and sought the global leadership role of the USSR through missile technology and armament . This led to the Cuba crisis with the United States in 1962 , but a Third World War could be avoided through secret diplomacy with President John F. Kennedy .

As a result of party reform and his rapprochement with the Federal Republic of Germany , he lost many of his supporters, was overthrown by Leonid Brezhnev in 1964 and expelled from the Central Committee in 1966. A year before his death, his memoirs Khrushchev remembers were published , but he denied their authorship out of party considerations. His son Sergei Khrushchev was a space engineer in the Soviet Union and moved to the United States in 1991.


Early years

Nikita Khrushchev came from a western Russian farming family who moved to the Donets Basin in Ukraine in 1908, which was the most important coal and industrial area of the Russian Empire at the time. He completed an apprenticeship as a machine fitter and then worked in the same mine as his father. He joined the miners' union . In the mining town of Jusowka (between 1924 and 1961 Stalino , since then Donetsk ) he met Lasar Kaganowitsch , who promoted him in later years and with whom he worked for many years in the Politburo before both men became internal party opponents. In 1918 he joined the Communist Party and the Red Army and took part in the civil war as a volunteer .

At the end of the civil war in 1921, his first wife, Galina Khrushchev , fell victim to the famine in Soviet Russia . From then on, the young widower had to look after his son Leonid and daughter Julia alone. From 1922 Khrushchev completed an apprenticeship at the workers' faculty in Yusowka, did party work among the students and in 1922 had a brief marriage with Marussia Khrushchev, who divorced in the same year. Here he also met Nina Petrovna Kucharchuk , whom he married in 1924 in their third marriage.


In 1925 he was appointed party secretary of the Petrovo-Marinsk district near Stalino in the Ukrainian SSR . In 1925 he took part in the 14th party congress of the CPSU , where he first met Stalin personally. On the XV. At the 1927 party congress, he saw the defeat of the left opposition ( Leon Trotsky , Zinoviev and others). He made himself known as a Stalin supporter. As such, Khrushchev was promoted to the party apparatus of the Ukraine, to the then capital Kharkov , and later to Kiev . In 1929 he took an opportunity for further training and attended the industrial academy in Moscow, to which only a few hundred party officials were admitted on recommendation each year. Here, too, he took over party work again. He also met Stalin's wife Nadezhda Allilueva know († 1932). This also made Stalin aware of him. Nadezhda, who got on very well with Khrushchev, repeatedly mentioned him positively to Stalin for years. Khrushchev became aware of this when he was often a guest at Stalin's table in later years. He called Nadezhda his "lottery ticket" because Stalin trusted him because of it.

Not least because of his benevolence, he became party leader in the industrial district of Krasnaya Presnja , one of the most important party districts in Moscow , in 1931 . His rise in Moscow was quick. As early as 1932 he became the second secretary of the city party committee, and in 1933 head of the Moscow regional party committee.

In 1934 he was on the XVII. Party congress elected to the Central Committee (ZK) of the CPSU, of which he was a member until 1966. From 1935 he was responsible for the new buildings in Moscow, including the construction of the Moscow Metro , for which he received his first Order of Lenin .

Party leader of the CPSU
Michail Sergejewitsch Gorbatschow Konstantin Ustinowitsch Tschernenko Juri Wladimirowitsch Andropow Leonid Iljitsch Breschnew Nikita Sergejewitsch Chruschtschow Josef Stalin Lenin

In the Politburo

From 1938 to 1939 Khrushchev was a candidate for the Politburo of the CPSU in place of Pavel Postyshev (shot in 1939) . In 1939 he rose to become a full member of the highest political body in the USSR. From March 22, 1939 to October 14, 1964 he was a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).

Khrushchev replaced Stanislaw Kossior , who had been shot in 1939, as party leader of Ukraine. With a break of almost one year (1947), Khrushchev was the first secretary of the Ukrainian party organization from 1938 to 1949. Like all the other surviving members of the Politburo, he had supported the Stalinist purges . In 1939/40 he supervised the incorporation of previously Polish areas as West Ukraine into the USSR after the Red Army had crossed the Soviet-Polish border in September 1939 in accordance with the agreements of the Hitler-Stalin Pact .

World War II and post-war period

In World War II , Khrushchev was active in the rank of lieutenant general , first as a member of the military council of Marshal Budyonny and then of Marshal Tymoshenko . Here he had to represent the devastating defeat against Stalin. He was also responsible for the removal of the industrial and agricultural machinery from the Ukraine and for the organization of the partisan struggle in Ukraine. Otherwise he was the link between the Politburo and various fronts in the southwest. As a front commissar he worked in the Stalingrad battles in 1942 and 1943 with Colonel General Jerjomenko and then successfully at the Battle of Kursk (under Marshal Rokossovsky ). His son Leonid was shot down and killed in 1943 while piloting a Yakovlev Jak-7 .

After the end of the war, Khrushchev was responsible for the reconstruction of Ukraine, the fight against hunger and the continued fight against Ukrainian nationalists of the OUN - UPA . The worsening famine in 1946 led to a temporary weakening of his political position, so that Lasar Kaganowitsch was transferred to the position of First Secretary of the Central Committee of Ukraine until the end of 1947.

From December 16, 1949 to September 7, 1953, Khrushchev was secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, where from 1950 he was responsible for agriculture. His election speech on March 7, 1950 initiated a large-scale campaign to amalgamate collective farms . From 1949 to 1953 he was also First Secretary of the Party Organization of the Moscow Region (Obkomsekretär). On the XIX. At the CPSU party congress in 1952, he played a prominent role at Stalin's behest: he gave the lecture on the significant changes to the party statute.

Stalin's death - Khrushchev First Secretary

24 hours after Stalin's death on March 5, 1953, a number of changes were announced: The Politburo, known as the “Presidium” since 1952, was reduced from 25 to 10 full members and the number of candidates from 11 to 4. In doing so, the leadership had restored the old situation before Stalin had enlarged the body and put potential successors in the cold. The ranking was headed by Georgi Malenkov (Khrushchev was No. 5), who was thus the first party secretary for a short time as party leader and at the same time succeeded Stalin in the office of prime minister. First deputy and really strong man was the head of the secret service Lavrenti Beria . The secretariat of the Central Committee was reduced from six to three members, consisting of Khrushchev, Michael Suslov and Pyotr Pospelow . On June 26, 1953, the interior minister and head of the intelligence service, Beria, feared by all Politburo members, was arrested in a flash (Khrushchev had cleverly intrigued against Beria) and sentenced to death on December 23, 1953 for an anti-Soviet conspiracy, and shot on the same day together with other leading intelligence officials. Khrushchev, now the longest-serving secretary, achieved a “collective leadership” aimed at by the political figures, that the leading offices of first secretary and head of government were separated and Malenkov had to give up power. Khrushchev was officially elected as the new First Secretary of the Central Committee on September 7, 1953; Malenkov remained Prime Minister. Until the sharp criticism of Malenkov at a Central Committee plenum in 1955, Malenkov and Khrushchev vied with each other for the top position among Soviet politicians - despite all assurances about the value of a “collective leadership”.


On the XX. In his secret speech on the personality cult and its consequences on February 25, Khrushchev criticized the personality cult around Stalin and the crimes associated with it.

The Soviet leadership subsequently ushered in a fundamental turnaround in social and economic policy that became known as de-Stalinization . The thaw period developed : a certain degree of relaxation returned both in domestic and foreign policy. Khrushchev had numerous prison camps ( gulag ) opened and innocent prisoners released. Whole sections of the population were rehabilitated. However, the de-Stalinization also set in motion political developments that were not acceptable to the Soviet leadership. In Poland and Hungary the old Stalinist party leaders were overthrown. In Hungary the liberal Imre Nagy came to power in 1953 , in Poland in 1956 Władysław Gomułka . Nagy was dropped again in 1955 and his predecessor Rákosi was again put into office. Khrushchev put down the popular uprising , which demanded more freedom in the fall of 1956 and declared Nagy prime minister at the end of October. Nagy, Pál Maléter and many others were executed in 1958. The increasing liberalization in some Eastern Bloc countries worried the conservatives in the Soviet leadership that de-Stalinization could get out of control.

In 1957 a majority (seven to four) of the Politburo members, namely Malenkov , Molotov , Voroshilov , Kaganovich , Saburov , Pervukhin and Bulganin , tried to overthrow Khrushchev. He was accused of turning away from Stalinism and feared his growing superiority. Khrushchev, however, remained cold-blooded and immediately convened the party's central committee with the help of the military under Marshal Zhukov who supported him . The majority in the Central Committee supported Khrushchev. This decided the power struggle. Malenkov, Molotov, Kaganowitsch and Saburow were voted out of the Politburo, and Pervukhin was demoted to the Politburo candidate. Malenkov was sidelined as head of a power plant in Kazakhstan , Molotov as ambassador to the Mongolian People's Republic . Bulganin remained Prime Minister for a year until Khrushchev took over this post on March 27, 1958. Voroshilov remained chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet until 1960 (he was succeeded by Brezhnev ). The position of the Central Committee as the controlling and highest party body between party congresses was strengthened by this process for several years.

At the peak of power

Khrushchev at the 5th party congress of the SED in the Werner-Seelenbinder-Halle in Berlin, 1958
On the return journey from VI. SED party congress in January 1963 at the Polish border station at Kunowice

On March 27, 1958, Khrushchev succeeded Bulganin as chairman of the Council of Ministers and thus reunited (like Stalin from May 1941 until his death in March 1953) the highest party office and the office of head of government in one person. In relation to the United States , he advocated the principle of the “ peaceful coexistence ” of the systems and proclaimed the goal of defeating capitalism primarily on an economic level (“catching up with and overtaking”, system competition ). Such announcements attracted a lot of attention in the West, especially since the Soviet Union reported excellent harvest results at the end of the 1950s and had launched the first satellite into orbit as early as 1957 ( Sputnik ).

Khrushchev initiated an unprecedented number of reforms in the Soviet Union, u. a. in economic and social policy, in education and culture and thus became an early forerunner of Gorbachev . However, he firmly believed in the superiority of the Soviet system and took great care that his reforms did not affect the basic Soviet order. In addition, he often acted with great impatience, did not wait for his reforms to take effect and changed measures that had already been taken if they did not bring the desired quick success. In the long run, he created unrest and dissatisfaction in the party, even boredom with reform.

From September 15 to 27, 1959, Khrushchev was the first Soviet head of government to visit the USA at the invitation of Eisenhower (this was preceded by the so-called kitchen debate with Vice President Richard Nixon on July 24, 1959 ).

After the shooting down of a US Lockheed U-2 spy plane over Soviet territory and the capture of the pilot Powers in May 1960, Khrushchev attempted in vain at the 15th General Assembly of the UN General Assembly in the fall of the same year to initiate a debate on US spy flights to toast. On October 12, 1960, during an angry speech, he had a legendary fit of anger in which he allegedly pounded the table with his shoe. To this day, however, it is not clear whether he was not just putting the shoe on the table. While leading circles in the Soviet Union were ashamed, what was happening in the West was ridiculed as an original appearance. Billy Wilder satirized Khrushchev's behavior in his 1961 film One, Two, Three .

As early as November 1958, Khrushchev strained relations with the Western powers with the Berlin ultimatum . However, the Soviet demands had no effect, so that the Soviet Union subsequently renounced an international solution to the Berlin question and in 1961, on Khrushchev's orders, pushed the policy of isolating West Berlin with the construction of the Berlin Wall .

Under Khrushchev and Kennedy's leadership, the Cuba crisis with the United States broke out in October 1962 , which could have led to a third world war. The two leaders were able to agree at the last moment to peacefully resolve the crisis; Khrushchev showed that in an emergency and under pressure he preferred a peaceful solution. Because of Khrushchev's course of "peaceful coexistence" and his attempted rapprochement with the Yugoslav head of state Tito , the People's Republic of China distanced itself from the Soviet Union. This split in world communism persisted until the collapse of the Soviet Union .

Final phase of domination and overthrow

From around 1960 onwards, Khrushchev's standing in the Soviet leadership gradually began to decline. His promises of bumper harvests in agriculture turned out to be unrealizable every year. First, in May 1960, the members of the Politburo (then called the Presidium, see above) and Khrushchev supporters Nikolai Belyayev and Alexei Kirichenko lost their seats; in their place Nikolai Podgorny and Dmitri Polyansky rose to the Politburo. Western observers still disputed whether Khrushchev's favorites had to give way to pressure from the internal party opposition or whether Khrushchev himself fired his own people from a position of strength because he was not satisfied with their performance. Politburo member Frol Koslow was able to increase his influence; since 1961 he was the second man in the party after Khrushchev and thus his designated successor. In the same year Khrushchev had the party statute changed by Kozlov, so that a quarter of the leading officials could not be re-elected in the coming years. With this he wanted to force high officials to work hard. In the party, however, this measure aroused resentment. Khrushchev friends such as Nikolai Ignatow , Ekaterina Furzewa , Awerki Aristow and Nuritdin Muchitdinow lost their full membership in the Politburo in October of that year, while Gennady Voronov and Andrei Kirilenko rose to the Politburo at the same time. The de-Stalinization was still generally supported in symbolic gestures (for example, in October 1961, Stalin's body was removed overnight from the Lenin mausoleum and buried in a single grave on the Kremlin wall ), but criticism was now cautiously voiced: the policy of liberalization (Keyword: thaw period ), the disturbed relations with China and Albania , the new personality cult around Khrushchev, the Cuba crisis, his reform efforts, which caused increasing confusion, and his apparently insufficient support for the heavy and armaments industry.

Khrushchev also gradually lost supporters in the Central Committee, his actual power base. Especially with his party reform in 1962, he had alienated the broad mass of the functionaries by depriving them of many privileges and creating a chaos of jurisdiction. On April 10, 1963 Kozlov suffered a stroke from which he did not recover, and Leonid Brezhnev (also a pupil of Khrushchev) moved up to number 2 in the leadership. The last reasons for the overthrow of Khrushchev were his policy of rapprochement with the Federal Republic of Germany , bypassing the Politburo and his arbitrariness with regard to state planning ( Gosplan ) with the aim of repeatedly reorganizing and strengthening agriculture. Michail Suslow and Brezhnev, but also Alexei Kosygin , Anastas Mikojan and Polyansky led on October 14, 1964 a. a. with the criticism of the party reform, the changed party statute and the agricultural policy, with the approval of the Central Committee, brought about his overthrow as party leader and prime minister. Brezhnev succeeded him as First Secretary of the Central Committee, and Kosygin as Prime Minister. Mikoyan became chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (de jure head of state). Despite all his disappointment about his cold serving, Khrushchev interpreted it as a victory for the party and a sign of internal change in the Soviet Union since 1953 that he had been retired - and not arrested or even liquidated - as it was in the Stalin era would have happened.

In 1966, Khrushchev also formally lost his seat in the Central Committee of the CPSU. Since his fall, he lived in his dacha near Moscow. There he died of heart failure on September 11, 1971 at the age of 77 . His grave in Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery was designed at his own request by Ernst Neiswestny , whom Khrushchev had described in an exhibition in 1962 as a “degenerate artist”.

In 1970 his memoirs Khrushchev Remembers ( Khrushchev remembers ) appeared in English, but he always denied their authorship - out of consideration for the Politburo. His voice has been clearly identified on the tapes on which he dictated the recordings as a pensioner in his dacha.

honors and awards

Order of Lenin

Khrushchev was a bearer of the Lenin Order and the Nile Order .


More than 280 publications are named in the RussGUS database (there search - simple search: chruscev, * OR kruschtschow, *)

  • For victory in the peaceful competition with capitalism (selection of speeches and its interviews and conversations with foreign journalists from 1958). Dietz Verlag, Berlin (GDR) 1960
  • Preventing a war - the most urgent task (From the speeches from 1956 to 1963). Foreign Language Literature Publishing House, Moscow 1963
  • On the most important problems of the present: speeches - essays from 1956–1963. Foreign Language Literature Publishing House, Moscow 1963
  • On the revolutionary workers and communist movement (from the speeches from 1956 to 1963). Foreign Language Literature Publishing House, Moscow 1963
  • Communism - Peace and Happiness of the Peoples (a selection of the speeches, presentations at the XXII Party Congress, interviews and discussions with foreign journalists). Dietz Verlag, Berlin (GDR) 1963
  • Preventing war - defending peace (A selection of the speeches, letters, articles, his interviews and conversations with foreign journalists on foreign policy issues in 1962). Dietz Verlag, Berlin (GDR) 1963
  • Socialism and Communism (From the speeches from 1956 to 1963). Foreign Language Literature Publishing House, Moscow 1963
  • On the national liberation movement (from speeches from 1956–1963). Foreign Language Literature Publishing House, Moscow 1963
  • Imperialism is the enemy of the peoples and of peace (from speeches from 1956–1963). Foreign Language Literature Publishing House, Moscow 1963
  • On the peaceful solution to the Germany question: From speeches, conversations and interviews 1955–1963. Dietz Verlag, Berlin (GDR) 1964
  • On the way to communism: speeches and writings on the development of the Soviet Union 1962/1963. Dietz Verlag, Berlin (GDR) 1964
  • For the victory of reason over the forces of war! Speeches, writings, interviews on foreign policy 1963. Dietz Verlag, Berlin (GDR) 1964
  • Speeches on cultural policy 1956–1963. Dietz Verlag, Berlin (GDR) 1964
  • Khrushchev remembers. Translated by Margaret Carroux et al. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1992, ISBN 3-499-19142-3


  • Sergei Khrushchev : The Birth of a Superpower: A Book About My Father. Edited and translated by R. Meier. Elbe-Dnjepr Verlag, Klitzschen 2003, ISBN 978-3-933395-38-2 .
    • Original title: Хрущёв С. Н. Рождение сверхдержавы: Книга об отце . Время (Vremya), Moscow, 2003, ISBN 5-94117-097-1 .
  • Nikita Sergejewitsch Khrushchev: Sketches for biography. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-320-01570-2
  • Edward Crankshaw: The Red Tsar - Nikita Khrushchev . S. Fischer Verlag, 1966 (German 1967)
  • Merle Fainsod : How Russia is governed . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne / Berlin 1965
  • Melanie Ilic, Jeremy Smith (Eds.): Soviet State and Society Under Nikita Khrushchev . Routledge, London 2009, ISBN 978-0-415-47649-2
  • Lothar Kölm (ed.): Kremlin chiefs - political-biographical sketches from Lenin to Gorbachev . Dietz, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-320-01697-0
  • Wolfgang Leonhard : Khrushchev's great purge . In: Die Welt , February 24, 1961 ( reproduced ( Memento from December 23, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) in the Open Society Archives )
  • Martin McCauley: The Khrushchev Era 1953-1964 . London, New York 1995
  • Roy Medvedev : Khrushchev. A political biography . Seewald, Stuttgart / Herford 1984, ISBN 3-512-00703-1
  • Reinhold Neumann-Hoditz: Nikita S. Khrushchev - In personal testimonies and photo documents . Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1980, ISBN 3-499-50289-5
  • Georg Pálóczi-Hórvath : Khrushchev (from English), Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt, 1961
  • Wladislaw Subok, Konstantin Pleschakow: The Kremlin in the Cold War - From 1945 to the Cuban Missile Crisis . Claassen, Hildesheim 1997, ISBN 3-546-00126-5
  • Michel Tatu: Power and Powerlessness in the Kremlin - From Khrushchev to collective leadership . Ullstein, Berlin / Frankfurt / Vienna 1967
  • William Taubman: Khrushchev. The Man and His Era . Norton & Company, London 2005
  • William J. Tompson: Khrushchev: A Political Life . St. Martin's Press, New York 1995
  • Dmitri Volkogonov : The Seven Leaders . Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2001, ISBN 3-7973-0774-8 .
  • Gerhard Wettig (Ed.): Khrushchev's Westpolitik 1955 to 1964 . De Gruyter Oldenbourg, Berlin
    • Vol. 1: Foreign policy before the outbreak of the Berlin crisis (summer 1955 to autumn 1958) , 2015
    • Vol. 2: The early years of the Berlin crisis (autumn 1958 to autumn 1960) , 2015
    • Vol. 3: The culmination of the Berlin crisis (autumn 1960 to autumn 1962) , 2011

Web links

Commons : Nikita Khrushchev  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Speech by the First Secretary of the CK of the KPSS, NS Chruščev on the XX. Party congress of the KPSS ["secret speech"] and the decision of the party congress "On the personality cult and its consequences", February 25, 1956. In: . Retrieved June 20, 2020 .
  2. Henning Sietz: Cold War: Did he strike? In: The time . No. 37/2010, September 9, 2010, archived from the original on May 30, 2013 ; Retrieved June 20, 2020 : “And so, apart from the confusing testimony, there is in fact no evidence that the Moscow polter actually hit something with his shoe, be it the table in front of him or the lectern. William Taubman also wavers in his judgment: although in his biography he leans towards the view that Khrushchev struck with his shoe, he wrote in the New York Times in 2003 : 'It may never have happened' - 'it may never have happened'. Probably true. But it remains a beautiful story. ” On the other hand, Der Spiegel reports that there are also film recordings of the scene. Nikita S. Khrushchev . In: Der Spiegel . No.
     48 , 1960, pp. 98 ( online ). Quote: “Nikita S. Khrushchev, 66, riot tourist, helped the German shoe industry with his New York Schuhplattler to subsequently get rich advertising material. A manufacturer from Pirmasens now identified Khrushchev's prop as an in-house product ('earthworm-thick bulge between upper leather and sole') on the basis of TV recordings and press photos. The Federal Ministry of Economics announced: The footwear in question was probably a copy from a delivery of 30,000 pairs of German shoes to the Soviet Union. "
  3. The magazine The Economist wrote (October 29, 1960, p 463): "... These conversations Took place at a time When Mr. Khrushchev that in New York, pounding his desk with the heel of his show. … “ Budapest in 1960 .
    Ralf Geißler: The shoe anecdote. In: Deutschlandfunk broadcast “Calendar Sheet”. October 13, 2010, accessed June 20, 2020 .
  4. Klaus Wiegrefe : Building the Wall: "We'll give you a week or two". In: Spiegel Online . May 29, 2009, accessed June 20, 2020 .
  5. Sergei Khrushchev: The Birth of a Superpower. A book about my father: Review note on Süddeutsche Zeitung, April 19, 2004. In: Pearl Divers . Retrieved June 20, 2020 .
  6. Gleb Tsipursky: M. Ilic u. a. (Ed.): Soviet State under Khrushchev. In: h-Soz-u-Kult . January 19, 2010, accessed on June 20, 2020 (English, review).
predecessor Office successor
Georgi Malenkov 1. Secretary or General Secretary of the CPSU
Leonid Brezhnev
Nikolai Bulganin Prime Minister of the Soviet Union
Alexei Kosygin