khrushchev the man and his era
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KHRUSHCHEV The Man and His Era. By William Taubman. His Early Years.

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his early years
His Early Years

Khrushchev uses the Pinya story to show how a small humble, uneducated man can “achieve the stature of the office to which he is elected”. However, some would argue that this comparison shows that “his doubts about himself were more profound than he ever admitted”.

Khrushchev Early YearsHis early childhood was something he does not reminisce about. It was very tough, he was the son of a peasant, describing himself as “the lowest of the low in the village”. Shoes were a luxury that he could ill-affordHis father was ‘weak’ whereas his mother was made of sterner stuff. Although born a peasant, he continuously tried to paint himself as a ‘proletariat’, and not a peasant.

“K’s memoirs are filed with nasty and demeaning descriptions f peasant). His impatience with peasants reflected his Marxist-Leninist creed.

Bolsheviks viewed peasants as dangerous reactionaries, as prisoners of what Marx called “the idiocy of rural life.

“Making it as a Metal Worker: 1908-1917Khrushchev was sent to work at Yuzovka, an industrial town, when he was fourteen.

He stayed there till he was 23, toiling in the rough life.

They enjoyed better wages, good diet and education and were considered a ‘sophisticated working class’ .

It was during his time working in factories that he joined unions and started to be more politically-savvy.

During this period between 1908-1917, he saw the Czar’s abdication, World War 1 and the class struggle between the anarchists and peasants.

He rose through the ranks in the Communist party due “to the very fact that he was unsure of himself, and of his chances to succeed”.

stalin s pet

Between 1929 – 1937, Khrushchev’s career rocketed. He was, amongst several others, trying his best to get ‘close’ to Stalin.

He joined in Stalin’s machinery of repression when Stalin began his terrible purge of communists who he suspected to be traitors, whether real or imaginary. Khrushchev betrayed many of his own party loyalists in the process.

He also supported Stalin’s planned economic model, although he could clearly see that it had contributed to the Great Russian Famine of 1932.

Khrushchev was promoted as Moscow’s Party Chief in 1949.

When Stalin died in 1953, Khrushchev toppled the contenders (Beria, Malenkov, Molotov and Voroshilov) to succeed Stalin.

khruschev s cold war
Khruschev’s Cold War

Secret Speech 1956

The Hungarian Revolution

Sino-Soviet Relations

Soviet-US “détente”

Soviet-Yugoslavia relations

The Berlin Crisis

The American U-2 Spy-plane incident

The Cuban Crisis

factors behind the sino soviet split
Factors behind the Sino-Soviet Split

a) Stalin’s treatment of Mao – doubts about Mao’s Long March, the Korean War, Mao’s Marxist views.

b) Khrushchev Secret Speech- Mao never forgave Khrushchev for denouncing Stalin. “He is just handing the sword to others, helping the tigers harm us” Mao.

c) Mao felt that Khrushchev lacked the maturity to handle Stalin’s legacy, and would not be able to hold together the Soviet Union. The Polish and Hungarian revolutions of 1956 confirmed Mao’s views.

d) Khrushchev first visit to China 1954 and his generosity which was never reciprocated

e) Mao’s Great Leap Forward – challenged Soviet’s leading role in communism

f) Khrushchev initiative to base long wave radio stations in Chinese territory condemned by Mao as intrusion into Chinese sovereignty
  • Mao saw Khrushchev idea of a “joint fleet” as a substitute to Soviets helping China to develop its own navy. He also felt that a joint fleet would in reality be a Soviet-dominated fleet.
  • Mao declared that Sino-Soviet cooperation was assured for ten thousand years. In that case, Khrushchev replied, “we can meet again in 9,999 years to agree on cooperation for another 10,000 years”.
  • g) China’s attacks on the islands of Jinmen and Mazu in August 1958, without advance warning to the Soviets, infuriated Khrushchev.
  • lead to huge US military build-up. Khrushchev had no choice but to publicly back Mao. This confirmed US views that Mao had the agreement of the Soviets to do what he did. For Mao, this was tactical strategy to break the US-Soviet détente.
h) on 19th July 1958, Khrushchev agreed for a UN meeting, which had Chiang Ka Sek still occupying China’s seat, and would also see India being elevated to a higher status by its presence at the meeting. Although the meeting did not take place, it shows again the “extraordinary gaffe” on the part of Khrushchev.
  • At the US-Soviet meeting between Eisenhower and Khrushchev, Khrushchev promised to ask Mao about the 5 American soldiers from the Korean War currently being held captive in Beijing.
  • j) Khrushchev also had differences with Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping – July 20 1962, Sino-Soviet talks broke down.
my view
My View:

Khrushchev was like Smarty, the limping man in The Usual Suspects

Responsible for the decline of Soviet foreign relations

Never could shake off his ‘peasant’ image

A tragic figure?