Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was perhaps one of the most colorful Soviet premiers in the history of the USSR. Having succeeded the tyrannical Joseph Stalin—and subsequently denouncing him through his famous secret speech—Khrushchev's Soviet policies set the stage for the subsequent democratization of Russia toward the end of the twentieth century. During the Cold War, there might have been a threat of nuclear war between the USSR and the US with Khrushchev embroiled in the middle of the potential conflict. Despite a significant political upheaval and the need for a reformer, Khrushchev's political career served as a prime case example of how desire and the drive do not always equate success. A number of Khrushchev's anti-Stalinist policies and programs failed miserably; however, he managed to maintain a nearly-dictatorial authority during his tenure as Soviet Premier. This paper will address Khrushchev's rise to power from modest beginnings and illustrate his political ideology which, although it was ultimately politically disastrous, was responsible for Khrushchev's impressive and colorful tenure, encompassing perhaps one of the greatest potential threats the West has had to face. When Stalin died in 1953, Khrushchev was elected first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, sharing power with a collegial leadership of the Presidium of the party. Gradually, Khrushchev emerged as leader of a refreshing stream, ready to break with the Stalinist past: first he got rid of the interior minister Beria, who represented the survival of Stalinism. The poor performance of the economy also allowed him to remove his rival, Prime Minister Malenkov (1955). The resignation of the new Prime Minister Bulganin in 1958, Khrushchev finally allowed him to personally focus towards the direction of state and party. The paper discusses the role of Khrushchev as a reformer whose ideas although considered authorities but brought reforms and welfare to Soviet Union. He played a brave role in eliminating the authoritarian forces of Stalin and bringing economic prosperity to Soviet Union.
Rise to Power—Early Years
Born in Ukraine on 17 April 1894, Khrushchev was the son of peasant farmers. At the age of 14, he took a job in a factory, which awakens within him a strong interest in labor issues and Marxist theory. Throughout this employment, his political activism was further reinforced by his membership in a group of co-workers who were protesting harsh labor conditions. Coming from a mining family, he participated in the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) and fought in the Red Army during the Civil War that followed (1918-20). Then he made a political career in the Communist Party of Ukraine, to become first secretary of the Moscow region (1935-1938) and Ukraine (1938-1949).
From this last position he worked to reduce Ukrainian nationalism, ...