Nikita Khrushchev

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My arms are up to the elbows in blood. That is the most terrible thing that lies in my soul.

Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchyov (17 April 189411 September 1971) was the leader of the Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin. He was First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964 and Chairman of the Council of Ministers from 1958 to 1964.

Quotes

In Russia, all you have to do to get a house is to be born in the Soviet Union. You are entitled to housing. In America, if you don't have a dollar you have a right to choose between sleeping in a house or on the pavement. Yet you say we are the slave to communism.
  • They say that the Soviet delegates smile. That smile is genuine. It is not artificial. We wish to live in peace, tranquility. But if anyone believes that our smiles involve abandonment of the teaching of Marx, Engels and Lenin he deceives himself poorly. Those who wait for that must wait until a shrimp learns to whistle.
    • Impromptu speech at a dinner for visiting East German dignitaries, Moscow (September 17, 1955), as reported by The New York Times (September 18, 1955), p. 19.
  • Yes, today we have genuine Russian weather. Yesterday we had Swedish weather. I can't understand why your weather is so terrible. Maybe it is because you are immediate neighbours of NATO.
    • At a Swedish-Soviet summit which began on March 30, 1956, in Moscow. The stenographed discussion was later published by the Swedish Government.as quoted in Raoul Wallenberg (1985) by Eric Sjöquist, p. 119 ISBN 9153650875
  • Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will dig you in. (We will bury you.)
    • Remark to western ambassadors during a diplomatic reception in Moscow (18 November 1956) as quoted in Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev: Statesman, 1953-1964, Penn State Press, 2007, (2007) by Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev, p. 893
  • Berlin is the testicle of the West. When I want the West to scream, I squeeze on Berlin.
    • Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Aug. 24, 1963, speech in Yugoslavia[citation needed]
  • I am very glad to hear this, since I come from the Ukraine. From now on I can sleep peacefully. I will immediately telegraph my daughter in Kiev.
    • Khrushchev's reply when the Swedish prime minister Erlander assured him that Sweden had no intention of repeating the 1709 Battle of Poltava in eastern Ukraine between Russia and Sweden. From a Swedish-Soviet summit which began on March 30, 1956, in Moscow, as quoted in Raoul Wallenberg (1985) by Eric Sjöquist, p. 125 ISBN 9153650875
  • If Adenauer were here with us in the sauna, we could see for ourselves that Germany is and will remain divided but also that Germany never will rise again.
    • Said during a late night visit to a sauna with Finland's president Kekkonen in June 1957. Translated from Våldets århundrade (2001) by Max Jakobson, p. 220 ISBN 9174866389
Yes, I know what Kennedy claims, and he's quite right. But I'm not complaining... We're satisfied to be able to finish off the United States first time round. Once is quite enough. What good does it do to annihilate a country twice? We're not a bloodthirsty people.
  • The thought sometimes -- the unpleasant thought sometimes creeps up on me here as to whether perhaps Khrushchev was not invited here to enable you to sort of rub him in your sauce and to show the might and the strength of the United States so as to make him sort of … so as to make him shaky at the knees. If that is so, then if I came -- if it took me about 12 hours to get here, I guess it'll just -- it'll take no more than about 10½ hours to fly back.
    • Khrushchev's remarks on his unfriendly reception in California while on a United States Tour. [1]
  • I happened to read recently a remark by the American nuclear physicist W. Davidson, who noted that the explosion of one hydrogen bomb releases a greater amount of energy than all the explosions set off by all countries in all wars known in the entire history of mankind. And he, apparently, is right.
    • Address to the United Nations, New York City (September 18, 1959), as reported by The New York Times (September 19, 1959), p. 8. The physicist quoted was eventually found to be William Davidon, associate physicist at Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, Illinois.
  • We have come to this town where lives the cream of American art.… But just now I was told that I could not go to Disneyland. I asked "Why not? What is it? Do you have rocket-launching pads there?" I do not know. Just listen to what reason I was told: "We," which means the American authorities, "cannot guarantee your security if you go there." What is it? Is there an epidemic of cholera there or something? Or have gangsters taken over the place that can destroy me? Then what must I do? Commit suicide? … For me, this situation is inconceivable. I cannot find words to explain this to my people.
    • Remarks during a Hollywood luncheon (19 September 1959), quoted in New York Times (20 September 1959) "Text of Khrushchev Debate With Skouras"
  • Mr. President, call the toady of American imperialism to order.
  • Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.
    • Comment on the construction of a bridge in Belgrade (22 August 1963), quoted in Chicago Tribune (22 August 1963) "Khrushchev Needles Peking"
  • If you start throwing hedgehogs under me, I shall throw a couple of porcupines under you.
    • As quoted in The New York Times (7 November 1963)
  • I remember President Kennedy once stated... that the United States had the nuclear missile capacity to wipe out the Soviet Union two times over, while the Soviet Union had enough atomic weapons to wipe out the United States only once... When journalists asked me to comment... I said jokingly, "Yes, I know what Kennedy claims, and he's quite right. But I'm not complaining... We're satisfied to be able to finish off the United States first time round. Once is quite enough. What good does it do to annihilate a country twice? We're not a bloodthirsty people."
    • As quoted in Khrushchev Remembers: The Last Testament (1974)
  • My arms are up to the elbows in blood. That is the most terrible thing that lies in my soul.
    • Told to Soviet playwright Nikolay Shatrov, as quoted in William Taubman, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002)
  • Are you real men or some goddamned faggots?
    • Said to avant-garde artists (Ely Bielutin and Ernst Neizvestny) during a visit to their exhibition (1 December 1962)

"Secret Report to the 20th Party Congress of the CPSU"

"The Cult of the Individual and Its Consequences" (24 February 1956)

  • Comrades! We must abolish the cult of the individual decisively, once and for all.
  • Concerning Stalin's merits, an entirely sufficient number of books, pamphlets and studies had already been written in his lifetime. The role of Stalin in the preparation and execution of the socialist revolution, in the Civil War, and in the fight for the construction of socialism in our country, is universally known.
    • The Stalinist Legacy (1984)
  • When we analyze the practice of Stalin in regard to the direction of the party and the country, when we pause to consider everything which Stalin perpetrated, we must be convinced that Lenin's fear were justified. The negative characteristics of Stalin, which, in Lenin's time, were only incipient, transformed themselves during the last years into a grave abuse of power by Stalin, which caused untold harm.
  • Stalin acted not through persuasion, explanation and patient cooperation with people, but by imposing his concepts and demanding absolute submission to his opinion. Whoever opposed this concept or tried to prove his viewpoint and the correctness of his position was doomed to removal from the leading collective and to subsequent moral and physical annihilation.
  • We must affirm that the part had fought a serious fight against the Trotskyistes, rightists and bourgeois nationalists, and that it disarmed ideologically all the enemies of Leninism. This ideological fight was carried on successfully, as a result of which the party became strengthened and tempered. here Stalin played a positive role.
  • Stalin originated the concept of 'enemy of the people'. This term automatically rendered it unnecessary that the ideological errors of a man or men engaged in a controversy be proven; this term made possible the usage of the most cruel repression, violating all norms of revolutionary legality, against anyone who in any wat disagreed with Stalin, against those who were only suspected of hostile intent, against those who had bad reputations. This concept 'enemy of the people' actually eliminated the possibility of any kind of ideological fight or the making of one's views known on this or that issue, even those of a practical character. In the main, and in actuality, the only proof of guilt used, against all norms of current legal science, was the 'confession' of the accused himself.
  • When the fascist armies had actually invaded Soviet territory and military operations began, Moscow issued the order that the German fire was not to be returned. Why? It was because Stalin, despite evident facts, thought that the war had not yet started, that this was only a provocative action on the part of several undisciplined sections of the German Army, and that reaction might serve as a reason for the Germans to begin the war.


Disputed

  • The living will envy the dead.
    • The attribution of this widely quoted remark about nuclear war to Khrushchev is disputed in Respectfully Quoted : A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
    • In Russia this quote is usually attributed to the translation of Treasure Island by Nikolay Chukovsky: "А те из вас, кто останется в живых, позавидуют мертвым!" ("Those of you who will be still alive will envy the dead", originally: "Them that die'll be the lucky ones").[2]
  • "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." [1]
  • (When talking to US President Truman on a visit to America regarding how healthy the crops looked) "If you had made it (how to raise crops so well) a secret, I would have known about it."

Quotes about Khruschchev

  • Political conditions on the other side had also changed significantly as a result of the Sino-Soviet rupture. In the late 1950s, Mao, resentful of Moscow's refusal to support China's atomic weapons program, condemned Krushchev's abandonment of the doctrine of revolutionary warfare and his pursuit of peaceful coexistence. Krushchev, a critic of Mao's disastrous Great Leap Forward and belligerence toward his neighbors, in 1960 suddenly withdrew Soviet experts and reduced Soviet assistance to China. After the split became public at the Twenty-Second Party Congress in October 1961, Mao openly mocked Krushchev's retreat during the Cuban missile crisis, complained of Moscow's pro-New Dehli stance during the 1962 Sino-Indian border conflict, and denounced the test ban treaty as a means of preventing China from developing its own nuclear weapons. By the end of 1963 the two communist giants were openly competing for leadership of the revolutionary movements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
    • Carole C. Fink, Cold War: An International History (2017), p. 125
  • Our only "crime" is that in Bucharest we did not agree that a fraternal communist party like the Chinese Communist Party should be unjustly condemned; our only "crime" is that we had the courage to oppose openly, at an international communist meeting (and not in the marketplace) the unjust action of Comrade Khrushchev, our only "crime" is that we are a small Party of a small and poor country which, according to Comrade Khrushchev, should merely applaud and approve but express no opinion of its own. But this is neither Marxist nor acceptable. Marxism-Leninism has granted us the right to have our say and we will not give up this right for any one, neither on account of political and economic pressure nor on account of the threats and epithets that they might hurl at us. On this occasion we would like to ask Comrade Khrushchev why he did not make such a statement to us instead of to a representative of a third party. Or does Comrade Khrushchev think that the Party of Labor of Albania has no views of its own but has made common cause with the Communist Party of China in an unprincipled manner, and therefore, on matters pertaining to our Party, one can talk with the Chinese comrades? No, Comrade Khrushchev, you continue to blunder and hold very wrong opinions about our Party. The Party of Labor of Albania has its own views and will answer for them both to its own people as well as to the international communist and workers' movement.
  • It is not we who behave like the Yugoslavs but you, comrade Khrushchev, who are using methods alien to Marxism-Leninism against our Party. You consider Albania as a market commodity which can be gained by one or lost by another. There was a time when Albania was considered a medium of exchange, when others thought it depended on them whether Albania should or should not exist, but that time came to an end with the triumph of the ideas of Marxism-Leninism in our country. You were repeating the same thing when you decided that you had "lost" Albania or that some one else had "won" it, when you decided that Albania is no longer a socialist country, as it turns out from the letter you handed to us on November 8, in which our country is not mentioned as a socialist country.

November, 1960

  • Nikita Khruschev was a difficult man to deal with, often very hard, always determined. But his peasant side which made him alternatively good-natured and cunning, also made him likeable.
  • Comrade Khrushchev often repeats that Socialism cannot be built with American wheat. I think it can be done by anyone who knows how to do it, while a person who doesn't know how to do it cannot build Socialism even with his own wheat. Khrushchev says we live on charity received from the imperialist countries … What moral right have those who attack us to rebuke us about American aid or credits when Khruschev himself has just tried to conclude an economic agreement with America?
    • Tito, as quoted by Jasper Ridley, Tito: A Biography (Constable and Company Ltd., 1994), p. 348-349.
  • And lastly, Chairman Khrushchev has compared the United States to a worn-out runner living on its past performance, and stated that the Soviet Union would out-produce the United States by 1970. Without wishing to trade hyperbole with the Chairman, I do suggest that he reminds me of the tiger hunter who has picked a place on the wall to hang the tiger's skin long before he his caught the tiger. This tiger has other ideas.

President John F. Kennedy's 13th News Conferences on June 28, 1961 John Source: F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

  • In the first message, Khrushchev said this: "We and you ought not to pull on the ends of a rope which you have tied the knots of war. Because the more the two of us pull, the tighter the knot will be tied. And then it will be necessary to cut that knot, and what that would mean is not for me to explain to you. I have participated in two wars and know that war ends when it has rolled through cities and villages, everywhere sowing death and destruction. For such is the logic of war. If people do not display wisdom, they will clash like blind moles and then mutual annihilation will commence." - Robert McNamara, Fog of War (2003)
  • Nikita Krushchev's eagerness to challenge U.S. interests around the world contributed to the spread of the Cold War in the Middle East, East Asia, Latin America, and even Africa. Krushchev's aggressiveness was motivated not only by a desire to take advantage of an opportunity to expand Soviet influence but also by the perceived Soviet need to fend off a growing challenge by China for leadership of the communist movement. Krushchev's willingness to engage the United States in a nuclear arms race was motivated primarily by his realization that the Soviet Union, despite the continuing development of its nuclear arsenal, was still vulnerable to an American nuclear strike. He undoubtedly believed that the best defense is a good offense and that a forward policy would conceal Soviet nuclear weakness while serving to pressure the West to resolve issues, such as Berlin, to the satisfaction of the Soviet Union. Krushchev's aggressiveness also made Soviet-American reconciliation impossible during the 1950s.
    • Ronald Powaski, The Cold War: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (1998), p. 133-134
  • Krushchev's public rhetoric also made Soviet-American reconciliation difficult, if not impossible, early in Kennedy's presidency. On January 6, 1961, the Soviet leader declared his country would support "wars of national liberation" in the underdeveloped world. Krushchev's declaration, wrote the president's confidante and historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., "alarmed Kennedy more than Moscow's amiable signals assuaged him." Although Kennedy was willing to negotiate an end to the Cold War, the Third World challenge which Krushchev threw at him would have to be dealt with first.
    • Ronald Powaski, The Cold War: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (1998), p. 135
  • In the opinion of another historian, Bruce Miroff, Kennedy's reaction to Krushchev's blustering revealed an acute inferiority complex, which the president manifested by a perverse need to prove his leadership capabilities. As a result, rather than ignoring or minimizing Krushchev's threats, as Eisenhower usually did, Kennedy personalized them and converted them into tests of will, in the process manufacturing crises that need not have been. "There was really nothing in that [Eisenhower] era comparable to the Berlin crisis of 1961 and the Cuban missile crisis of 1962," Miroff observes, both of which represented the closest approaches to a superpower nuclear war during the Cold War. For whatever reasons, whether they were primarily ideological, political, or psychological- and all were important- in formulating his initial response to the Soviet Union Kennedy chose to emphasize Krushchev's bellicose actions rather than his friendly gestures. Only after Kennedy had proved to the Soviet leader that he was not soft on communism would diplomacy make any headway during his presidency.
    • Ronald Powaski, The Cold War: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (1998), p. 136
  • Partly to offset America's nuclear superiority, but primarily to deter another U.S.-backed invasion of Cuba, Krushchev decided in early 1962 to deploy on that island nation thirty-six medium-range ballistic missiles (with a range of 2,200 nautical miles). Since the United States had deployed Jupiter IRBMs in Turkey, the Soviet leader had no qualms about trying to do the same thing in Cuba. "It was high time," he recalled thinking in his own memoir, "America learned what it feels like to have her own land and her own people threatened."
    • Ronald Powaski, The Cold War: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (1998), p. 142
  • It is probable that Krushchev also wanted a dramatic way of achieving a breakthrough on the Berlin problem, and perhaps expected that the successful deployment of missiles in Cuba would do much to neutralize U.S. nuclear superiority, thereby enabling him to increase Soviet pressure on that beleaguered city. In addition, some analysts believe, the successful deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba would distract attention from Krushchev's growing domestic problems, primarily the mediocre performance of Soviet agriculture, and solidify the leadership of the Soviet Union in the international communist movement, which was being increasingly challenged by the Chinese.
    • Ronald Powaski, The Cold War: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (1998), p. 142
  • Ironically, the enhanced short-term prestige that Kennedy experienced in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis only produced greater long-term insecurity for his country. The humiliation Krushchev suffered at the hands of Kennedy during the missile crisis contributed to his removal from power in October 1964. The new Soviet leadership, headed by Leonid Brezhnev, was determined to avoid a repetition of the humiliation Krushchev had experienced. Beginning in early 1965, the Kremlin embarked on a massive expansion of the Soviet nuclear arsenal that would enable the Soviet Union to achieve nuclear parity with the United States by the end of the decade.
    • Ronald Powaski, The Cold War: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (1998), p. 144

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References

  1. Udall, U.S. Rep. Morris K.. Khrushchev Could Have Said It. originally published in The New Republic, 1962. Retrieved on 2016-04-06.