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April 15, 2018

TODAY IS THE 124th ANNIVERSARY OF NIKITA KHRUSHCHEV’S BIRTH: Khrushchev was all too willing to assist with Stalin’s infamous purges and was Stalin’s enforcer in Ukraine.   But at least later in life, he came to understand that Stalin was a dangerous maniac. After Stalin’s death, he emerged (hands bloodied) as the Soviet Union’s leader from 1953 to 1964 and pursued a policy of De-Stalinization.

Khrushchev’s grip on power was never as tight as Stalin’s.  On the night of his ouster (engineered by Leonid Brezhnev), he is reported to have told a friend:

“I’m old and tired. Let them cope by themselves. I’ve done the main thing. Could anyone have dreamed of telling Stalin that he didn’t suit us anymore and suggesting he retire? Not even a wet spot would have remained where we had been standing. Now everything is different. The fear is gone, and we can talk as equals. That’s my contribution. I won’t put up a fight.”

Khrushchev is famous for having told a room full of Western ambassadors, “WE WILL BURY YOU!” Instead, he is buried at Novodevichy Cemetery. Brezhnev refused him a state funeral or Kremlin burial. To Brezhnev, he was just an annoying squish.  Take a look at his monument at the cemetery. It’s in black and white–a fitting metaphor for the man.