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Quick Facts About Nikita Khrushchev

Larry Slawson received his master's degree at UNC Charlotte. He specializes in Russian and Ukrainian history.

Photo of Nikita Khrushchev.

Photo of Nikita Khrushchev.

Nikita Khrushchev: Biographical Facts

  • Birth Name: Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev
  • Date of Birth: 15 April 1894
  • Birth Place: Kalinovka, Kursk (Former Russian Empire)
  • Nationality: Soviet
  • Date of Death: 11 September 1971 (77 Years of Age)
  • Cause of Death: Heart Attack
  • Spouse(s): Yefrosinia Khrushcheva (1914–1919); Marusia Khrushcheva (Divorced in 1922); Nina Kukharchuk (Married in 1923)
  • Children: Yulia; Leonid; Rada; Sergei; Elena
  • Father: Sergei Khrushchev (Peasant; railway worker; miner; factory worker)
  • Mother: Ksenia Khrushcheva (Peasant)
  • Sibling(s): Irina Khrushcheva (Sister)
  • Education: Industrial Academy
  • Political Affiliation: Communist Party of the Soviet Union
  • Military Service: 1941–1945 (Red Army; Soviet Union)
  • Military Rank: Lieutenant General over Soviet Armed Forces
  • Awards/Honors: Hero of the Soviet Union Award; Hero of Socialist Labour Award (Three Times); Order of Lenin Award (Seven Times); Order of Suvorov Award; Order of Kutozov Award; Order of the Patriotic War Award; Order of the Red Banner of Labour Award
  • Occupation(s): First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union
Khrushchev at the Battle of Stalingrad

Khrushchev at the Battle of Stalingrad

Khrushchev's Life

  • Nikita Khrushchev was born in a small village located in Kalinovka (modern day border region between Russia and Ukraine). During his youth, Khrushchev was a metal worker before becoming politically radicalized by the Bolsheviks. During the Russian Civil War, Khrushchev served as a political commissar. Khrushchev continued to rise in Soviet politics due to his connections with Lazar Kaganovich (Soviet administrator and politician), and through his unwavering support of Joseph Stalin during the 1930s. Not only did Khrushchev support Stalin’s political and military purges, but he also approved thousands of arrests across the Soviet Union as well. For his support, Stalin appointed Khrushchev as governor over the Ukraine in 1938.
  • During World War Two (Known in the Soviet Union as the “Great Patriotic War”), Stalin once again appointed Khrushchev as a commissar to serve as an intermediary between him and his officers. Khrushchev was present during the battle of Stalingrad; a battle that served as a tremendous source of pride for Khrushchev in the years that followed.
  • In the aftermath of World War Two, Khrushchev once again helped govern the Ukraine; however, it wasn’t long before he was recalled to Moscow by Stalin, where he served as a political adviser for several years. Khrushchev used this political platform to secure power for himself in the months and years that followed Stalin’s death. Ironically, Khrushchev quickly dismissed Stalin and his policies, despite years of subservience and support for the former leader. In a speech delivered on 25 February 1956 (Known as the “Secret speech”), Khrushchev denounced Stalin, his purges, and political repression; he promised numerous reforms as well as a dramatic reduction in political repression.
  • Despite promises for reform, most of Khrushchev’s policies were ineffective, at best (particularly in agriculture and military reform). Under Khrushchev, the Cold War also entered its most intense phase in tensions; culminating in a thirteen day showdown with the United States in Cuba (known as the Cuban Missile Crisis). Khrushchev proved incapable of standing firm against President Kennedy; resulting in a dramatic reduction of Soviet prestige. Nevertheless, the Cuban Missile Crisis remains one of the most dangerous events to transpire in world history, given the strong potential for a global nuclear war.
  • Khrushchev was removed from office in October of 1964, following numerous failed policies. He was given a substantial pension for his time as Premier, an apartment in Moscow, and a summer home (dacha). A few years later, Khrushchev was hospitalized (11 September 1971) after suffering a massive heart attack. He died soon after, and was quickly buried in Novodevichy Cemetery (in Moscow). Unlike previous leaders, Khrushchev was denied the traditional state funerals held for Stalin and Lenin. He was also denied internment in the Kremlin Wall.

“Freedom in capitalist countries exists only for those who possess money and who consequently hold power.”

— Nikita Khrushchev

Quotes by Khrushchev

  • “If you live among wolves, you have to act like a wolf.”
  • “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers.”
  • “We do not have to invade the United States, we will destroy you from within.”
  • “You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism. We won’t have to fight you. We’ll so weaken your economy until you’ll fall like overripe fruit into our hands.”
  • “The press is our chief ideological weapon.”
  • “Freedom in capitalist countries exists only for those who possess money and who consequently hold power.”
  • “Do you think that when two representatives holding diametrically opposing views get together and shake hands, the contradictions between our systems will simply melt away? What kind of daydream is that?”
  • “The purpose of the United Nations should be to protect the essential sovereignty of nations, large and small.”
  • “Economics is a subject that does not greatly respect one’s wishes.”
  • “The two most powerful nations of the world had been squared off against each other, each with its finger on the button. You’d have thought that war was inevitable. But both sides showed that if the desire to avoid war is strong enough, even the most pressing dispute can be solved by compromise. And a compromise over Cuba was, indeed, found.”

Lasting Impacts of Krushchev

Nikita Khrushchev remains one of the most important political figures of the Soviet era. Although many of his political and economic policies failed (or were later overturned), Khrushchev succeeded in dismantling the cult of personality that dominated the Stalinist era. Moreover, his actions helped shape global politics for several decades; in particular, the strong tension that divided the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War. As more and more Soviet archives reveal documents (formerly sealed by the government), historians will continue to gain unprecedented insight into the life and contributions of Khrushchev. Only time will tell what new information can be learned about this fascinating political figure.

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Works Cited


"Nikita Khrushchev." Wikipedia. September 20, 2018. Accessed September 21, 2018.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Larry Slawson


Lynne Tague on September 29, 2018:

Nikita Kruschev said that Russia would take over the United States without firing a single shot. I never thought I would see that happen. However, in watching the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, I'm beginning to think that Kruschev was right. Sad!

Larry Slawson (author) from North Carolina on September 22, 2018:

@Liz I'm glad you enjoyed. Yes, I have always associated Khrushchev with the Cuban crisis as well. Its amazing how close the world came to a nuclear war during that time.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 22, 2018:

This is a great summary, bringing to life the name that I associate with the Cuban crisis. I have learned a lot from reading this.

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