Khrushchev Demands Withdrawal of Troops From Berlin


Who was Khrushchev?

Nikita Khrushchev [1894-1971] was the First Secretary of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union from 1953 until 1964. He was a miner who joined the Bolsheviks in 1918 and received a technical education. He quickly rose up through the Party's ranks, becoming a Central Committee member in 1934 and then to the Politburo in 1939. After Stalin's death in 1953, he became First Secretary. Later, he would use Stalin's established methods to divide and conquer his opponents, replace them with his hand-picked people and emerge as a leader, though Khrushchev's approach was not to kill. Instead, he sent rivals to far away and innocuous jobs, such as Ambassador to Mongolia.

With foreign affairs, Khrushchev set high, but almost impossible, goals and seemed to enjoy humiliating the West. It was his ideas to send the first dog, man and woman into space (but, needless to say, not at the same time) and to launch Sputnik, the first satellite. He had an enthusiasm for being flamboyant in his mannerisms, which was not very helpful for him with the conservative Party from the very beginning. Many were very embarassed by his antics, including one memorable time where he banged his shoe on a podium during a speech to the UN General Assembly. Often, the Party was looking for opportunities to oust him. Their opportunity came with the Cuban Missile Crisis, where he pulled another of his moments of being "All talk, no action," that is to say, he would say he would do things, but no be able to necessarily do them. In 1962, he deployed nuclear missiles into the newly Communist Cuba, within easy distance of key American population points. Due to intelligence from a Soviet double agent, the United States was made aware that these so-called missiles were truly only half-developed and weren't as big a deal as they seemed. Then-President John F. Kennedy called Khrushchev out on this and had him remove his missiles from Cuba. This caused a great humiliation for the Soviets. Khrushchev was quietly removed from office two years later by rivals from the Politburo, mostly notably, without any bloodshed. He spent the remainder of his life in a quiet retirement and was the only Soviet leader not to be buried in the Kremlin wall after his death.

John_Kennedy,_Nikita_Khrushchev_1961.jpg President JFK and Khrushchev in 1961


Khrushchev fought to figure out a lasting compromise for the divided Germany and of the problems with West Berlin. In November 1958, he gave the United States, United Kingdom and France 6 months to create a peace treaty with East Germany. This would give Western Powers access to Berlin. This caused the Western Allies to be uneasy, since they didn't want to go to war over this issue. Khrushchev, however, kept extending the deadline. He also, when the West would not cooperate, approved the decision to erect the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Connection to the Cold War

Khrushchev's demands for the West to mend things with Germany was a step in the right direction. He wanted East Germany to incorporate the western sections. He was trying to turn Europe back into its whole self that it used to be. A lot of the Cold War, from what I understand, was a part of patching up the fragments of cities and towns to bring them back into their countries. Khrushchev's demands of withdrawal was only trying to help this along.


Nikita Khrushchev Biography on PBS
Russia - The Khrushchev Era
Cold War Timeline