Nikita Khrushchev Biography
Claim to Fame: Soviet Premier
DOB: April 15, 1894
Date of Death: September 11, 1971
Diabetes Type: 2
A prominent figure in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Nikita Khrushchev played a central role in the country’s departure from the oppressive Stalinist political system of the World War II era, in what was termed the “Khrushchev Thaw”. Once a supporter of Stalin’s aggressive communist agenda, Khrushchev later rejected the “cult of personality” and state of totalitarianism implemented by his predecessor. Upon Stalin’s death, Khrushchev’s leadership ushered in a period of relaxed restriction and social, cultural and economic reform.
Born in the Russian village of Kalinovka, Khrushchev spent his youth as a metalworker until the Russian Civil War, where he became a political commissar in charge of education, organization and ensuring political control for the Soviet precursor, the Bolsheviks. Khrushchev quickly rose within the party, supporting the Marxist-Lenin ideology that would later be used by Stalin as the platform for his rule. Initially, Khrushchev was a great supporter of Stalin, carrying out his political arrests and executions with pride. Khrushchev served as commissar throughout World War II, acting as an intermediary between Stalin and his military generals. As a result of his loyalty, Stalin made Khrushchev a close confidant and advisor following the war. However, upon Stalin’s death in 1953, Khrushchev lead a hard line campaign against the former leader and those individuals that supported and wished to preserve Stalin’s legacy.
In 1956, at a meeting of delegates of the Communist Party, Khrushchev delivered his “Secret Speech”, a report that openly criticized and condemned the actions of Stalin and the Communist Party under his rule. Khrushchev, a firm believer in Leninism and communist Ideology, accused Stalin of deplorable acts of violence, subjugation, and political abuse. However, Khrushchev argued that many of Stalin’s actions were the inevitable results of his “cult of personality”, which forced the former leader to suffer paranoia and mental deterioration. Khrushchev ‘s “Secret Speech” was an attempt to restore the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to its original Marxist-Lenin beliefs and brought about the reversal of oppression that was fundamental to the Khrushchev Thaw and the resulting Union or Soviet Socialist Republics, or, USSR. Despite his attempts to reform, many of his policies failed and in 1968, Khrushchev was forced from power and replaced by Leonid Brezhnev.
Khrushchev remains a controversial figure in Russian history with many of his policies and actions being contested and criticized. Even now, when discussing his leadership, public opinion is divided between admiration for his liberalization and condemnation of Stalin and disappointment at his inability to adequately enforce those policies and reforms he proposed. Nevertheless, Khrushchev is undoubtedly a significant figure in the evolution of Russian politics from the period of the Russian Civil War to the end of the Soviet Union in 1991.
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