Mary Baldwin College, Staunton VA 24401
by Prof. Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.
Americans remember the bluster of a crude, aggressive Soviet dictator, shown below at the United Nations in 1960.
Khrushchev gained high office in the USSR as a result of his close work with Josef Stalin, especially in Ukraine and in the construction of the Moscow subway system. In the picture below, Khrushchev (at front left) is shown at the 8th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1936. Josef Stalin is fifth from left, Molotov to his left.
However, a balanced reading of Khrushchev's career would show a man who presided over a period in which censorship eased in the USSR ("the Thaw"), initiated the de-Stalinization campaign, attempted to decentralize power in the CPSU, and worked at times to ease tensions with the West, as in his "Peaceful Coexistence" initiative in the later 1950s. A dedicated lifelong Communist, after his overthrow, Khrushchev wrote two volumes of memoirs that showed a man who had thoughtful analysis of his country and the difficulties it had managed to overcome.
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