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Khrushchev was born on 15 April 1894,[b][3] in Kalinovka,[4] a village in what is now Russia's Kursk Oblast, near the present Ukrainian border.[5] His parents, Sergei Khrushchev and Xeniya Khrushcheva, were poor peasants of Russian[5][6] origin, and had a daughter two years Nikita's junior, Irina.[3] Sergei Khrushchev was employed in a number of positions in the Donbas area of far eastern Ukraine, working as a railwayman, as a miner, and labouring in a brick factory. Wages were much higher in the Donbas than in the Kursk region, and Sergei Khrushchev generally left his family in Kalinovka, returning there when he had enough money.[7]

Kalinovka was a peasant village; Khrushchev's teacher, Lydia Shevchenko, later stated that she had never seen a village as poor as Kalinovka had been.[8] Nikita worked as a herdsboy from an early age. He was schooled for a total of four years, part in the village parochial school and part under Shevchenko's tutelage in Kalinovka's state school. According to Khrushchev in his memoirs, Shevchenko was a freethinker who upset the villagers by not attending church, and when her brother visited, he gave the boy books which had been banned by the Imperial Government.[9] She urged Nikita to seek further education, but family finances did not permit this.[9]

In 1908, Sergei Khrushchev moved to the Donbas city of Yuzovka (now Donetsk, Ukraine); fourteen-year-old Nikita followed later that year, while Ksenia Khrushcheva and her daughter came after.[10] Yuzovka, which was renamed Stalino in 1924 and Donetsk in 1961, was at the heart of one of the most industrialized areas of the Russian Empire.[10] After the boy worked briefly in other fields, Khrushchev's parents found him a place as a metal fitter's apprentice. Upon completing that app

Khrushchev was born in 1894 in the village of Kalinovka, in western Russia, close to the present-day border between Russia and Ukraine. He was employed as a metal worker during his youth, and he was a political commissar during the Russian Civil War. With the help of Lazar Kaganovich, he worked his way up the Soviet hierarchy. He supported Joseph Stalin's purges, and approved thousands of arrests. In 1938, Stalin sent him to govern the Ukrainian SSR, and he continued the purges there. During what was known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War (Eastern Front of World War II), Khrushchev was again a commissar, serving as an intermediary between Stalin and his generals. Khrushchev was present at the bloody defense of Stalingrad, a fact he took great pride in throughout his life. After the war, he returned to Ukraine before being recalled to Moscow as one of Stalin's close advisers.

On 5 March 1953, Stalin's death triggered a power struggle in which Khrushchev emerged victorious upon consolidating his authority as First Secretary of the party's Central Committee. On 25 February 1956, at the 20th Party Congress, he delivered the "Secret Speech", which denounced Stalin's purges and ushered in a less repressive era in the Soviet Union. His domestic policies, aimed at bettering the lives of ordinary citizens, were often ineffective, especially in agriculture. Hoping eventually to rely on missiles for national defense, Khrushchev ordered major cuts in conventional forces. Despite the cuts, Khrushchev's time in office saw the tensest years of the Cold War, culminating in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Khrushchev enjoyed strong support during the 1950s thanks to major victories like the Suez Crisis, the launching of Sputnik, the Syrian Crisis of 1957, and the 1960 U-2 incident. By the early 1960s however, Khrushchev's popularity was eroded by flaws in his policies, as well as his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This emboldened his potential opponents, who quietly rose in strength and deposed him in October 1964. However, he did not suffer the deadly fate of previous Soviet power struggles, and was pensioned off with an apartment in Moscow and a dacha in the countryside. His lengthy memoirs were smuggled to the West and published in part in 1970. Khrushchev died in 1971 of a heart attack.

Khrushchev was born on 15 April 1894,[b][3] in Kalinovka,[4] a village in what is now Russia's Kursk Oblast, near the present Ukrainian border.[5] His parents, Sergei Khrushchev and Xeniya Khrushcheva, were poor peasants of Russian[5][6] origin, and had a daughter two years Nikita's junior, Irina.[3] Sergei Khrushchev was employed in a number of positions in the Donbas area of far eastern Ukraine, working as a railwayman, as a miner, and labouring in a brick factory. Wages were much higher in the Donbas than in the Kursk region, and Sergei Khrushchev generally left his family in Kalinovka, returning there when he had enough money.[7]

Kalinovka was a peasant village; Khrushchev's teacher, Lydia Shevchenko, later stated that she had never seen a village as poor as Kalinovka had been.[8] Nikita worked as a herdsboy from an early age. He was schooled for a total of four years, part in the village parochial school and part under Shevchenko's tutelage in Kalinovka's state school. According to Khrushchev in his memoirs, Shevchenko was a freethinker who upset the villagers by not attending church, and when her brother visited, he gave the boy books which had been banned by the Imperial Government.[9] She urged Nikita to seek further education, but family finances did not permit this.[9]

In 1908, Sergei Khrushchev moved to the Donbas city of Yuzovka (now Donetsk, Ukraine); fourteen-year-old Nikita followed later that year, while Ksenia Khrushcheva and her daughter came after.[10] Yuzovka, which was renamed Stalino in 1924 and Donetsk in 1961, was at the heart of one of the most industrialized areas of the Russian Empire.[10] After the boy worked briefly in other fields, Khrushchev's parents found him a place as a metal fitter's apprentice. Upon completing that apprenticeship, the teenage Khrushchev was hired by a factory.[11] He lost that job when he collected money for the families of the victims of the Lena Goldfields massacre, and was hired to mend underground equipment by a mine in nearby Rutchenkovo,[12] where his father was the union organiser, and he helped distribute copies and organise public readings of Pravda.[13] He later stated that he considered emigrating to the United States for better wages, but did not do so.[14]

The maximum territorial extent of countries in the world under Soviet influence, after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 and before the official An indefinite postponement of action over Berlin was unacceptable to Khrushchev, if for no other reason than that East Germany was suffering a continuous "brain drain" as highly educated East Germans fled west through Berlin. While the boundary between the two German states had elsewhere been fortified, Berlin, administered by the four Allied powers, remained open. Emboldened by statements from former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Charles E. Bohlen and United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman J. William Fulbright that East Germany had every right to close its borders, which were not disavowed by the Kennedy Administration, Khrushchev authorized East German leader Walter Ulbricht to begin construction of what became known as the Berlin Wall, which would surround West Berlin. Construction preparations were made in great secrecy, and the border was sealed off in the early hours of Sunday, 13 August 1961, when most East German workers who earned hard currency by working in West Berlin would be at their homes. The wall was a propaganda disaster, and marked the end of Khrushchev's attempts to conclude a peace treaty among the Four Powers and the two German states.[225] That treaty would not be signed until September 1990, as an immediate prelude to German reunification.

Cuban Missile Crisis and the test ban treaty (1962–1964)

Superpower tensions culminated in the Cuban Missile Crisis (in the USSR, the "Caribbean crisis") of October 1962, as the Soviet Union sought to install medium-range nuclear missiles in Cuba, about 90 miles (140 km) from the U.S. coast.[31] Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro was reluctant to accept the missiles, and, once he was persuaded, warned Khrushchev ag

Superpower tensions culminated in the Cuban Missile Crisis (in the USSR, the "Caribbean crisis") of October 1962, as the Soviet Union sought to install medium-range nuclear missiles in Cuba, about 90 miles (140 km) from the U.S. coast.[31] Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro was reluctant to accept the missiles, and, once he was persuaded, warned Khrushchev against transporting the missiles in secret. Castro stated, thirty years later, "We had a sovereign right to accept the missiles. We were not violating international law. Why do it secretly—as if we had no right to do it? I warned Nikita that secrecy would give the imperialists the advantage."[226]

On 16 October, Kennedy was informed that U-2 flights over Cuba had discovered what were most likely medium-range missile sites, and though he and his advisors considered approaching Khrushchev through diplomatic channels, could come up with no way of doing this that would not appear weak.[227] On 22 October, Kennedy addressed his nation by television, revealing the missiles' presence and announci

On 16 October, Kennedy was informed that U-2 flights over Cuba had discovered what were most likely medium-range missile sites, and though he and his advisors considered approaching Khrushchev through diplomatic channels, could come up with no way of doing this that would not appear weak.[227] On 22 October, Kennedy addressed his nation by television, revealing the missiles' presence and announcing a blockade of Cuba. Informed in advance of the speech but not (until one hour before) the content, Khrushchev and his advisors feared an invasion of Cuba. Even before Kennedy's speech, they ordered Soviet commanders in Cuba that they could use all weapons against an attack—except atomic weapons.[228]

As the crisis unfolded, tensions were high in the U.S.; less so in the Soviet Union, where Khrushchev made several public appearances, and went to the Bolshoi Theatre to hear American opera singer Jerome Hines, who was then performing in Moscow.[31][229] By 25 October, with the Soviets unclear about Kennedy's full intentions, Khrushchev decided that the missiles would have to be withdrawn from Cuba. Two days later, he offered Kennedy terms for the withdrawal.[230] Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles in exchange for a U.S. promise not to invade Cuba and a secret promise that the U.S. would withdraw missiles from Turkey, near the Soviet heartland.[231] As the last term was not publicly announced at the request of the U.S., and was not known until just before Khrushchev's death in 1971,[31] the resolution was seen as a great defeat for the Soviets, and contributed to Khrushchev's fall less than two years later.[31] Castro had urged Khrushchev to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the U.S. in the event of any invasion of Cuba,[232] and was angered by the outcome, referring to Khrushchev in profane terms.[233]

After the crisis, superpower relations improved, as Kennedy gave a conciliatory speech at American University on 10 June 1963, recognizing the Soviet people's suffering during World War II, and paying tribute to their achievements.[234] Khrushchev called the speech the best by a U.S. president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, and, in July, negotiated a test ban treaty with U.S. negotiator Averell Harriman and with Lord Hailsham of the United Kingdom.[235] Plans for a second Khrushchev-Kennedy summit were dashed by the U.S. President's assassination in November 1963. The new U.S. president, Lyndon Johnson, hoped for continued improved relations but was distracted by other issues and had little opportunity to develop a relationship with Khrushchev before the premier was ousted.[236]