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Nikita S. Khrushchev - Early Career

Nikita Khrushchev was born 17 April 1894 as the son of a coal-miner, in Kalinovka, a village near Russia’s border with Ukraine. He started working at an early age, first as a shepherd, and then at factories and coal mines in Eastern Ukraine. Khrushchev's working life began in Ukraine, in the region of Donbas. His job as a pipe fitter (which he began at fifteen) exempted him from service in World War I.

Even before the October Revolution, Khrushchev had become active in workers’ organisations. Eager to change Russia, he joined the workers' struggle before the 1917 Revolution erupted and by 1918, he had joined the Russian Communist party (the Bolsheviks), and served as a political worker for the Red Army in the civil war. The following year he joined the Red Army and fought against Polish troops. His service won him admission to the new Soviet schools where he quickly rose through the party ranks, becoming secretary of the school's Communist Party Committee.

By 1925, he worked for the party full-time and became known for his hands-on understanding of mine and factory conditions. His reputation as an effective and enthusiastic party organizer propelled his rapid rise within the party. Under orders from Moscow, Khrushchev participated in massive confiscations of food, crops, forage grains, and supplies, that left millions of peasants starving to death.

After the war he studied at a technical institute in the Ukrainian mining and industrial centre of Donetsk, and it was there that he embarked upon a political career. In 1929, Khrushchev moved to Moscow to enter the Stalin Industrial Academy. He soon began full-time party work, progressing through the ranks to become the first secretary of the Moscow City Party Committee, a traditional proving ground for the Communist Party’s rising stars. He managed to impress when overseeing construction of much of Moscow’s subway system. In 1934 he became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and recipient of the Order of Lenin and first secretary of the Moscow City Committee in 1935.

Early Career in Ukraine

Khrushchev's political career was, to a great extent, connected with Ukraine. In the period from 1938 to 1947 (with intervals) [Khrushchev] was the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Bolsheviks of Ukraine; from 1944 to 1947 he was also head of the government of the UkrSSR [the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic]; in October 1939 he was instrumental in getting Western Ukraine included into the UkrSSR.

In 1930, Khrushchev was not yet then a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. By 1934, he became a full-fledged member of the Central Committee. In September of 1937 Stalin sent a commission to Ukraine which consisted of Molotov, Yezhov, and Khrushchev. This commission was supposed to eliminate Kossior, Lubchenko, and Petrovsky from the leading posts and install Khrushchev as the general secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine. However, the plenum of the central committee of the Ukrainian Republic was absolutely against this candidacy, and Khrushchev's candidacy was rejected.

As a result of this courageous rejection, historical documents state that in the beginning of 1938 there was not even one member of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party who was not annihilated or arrested. Out of 62 members of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party and 40 candidates to the Ukrainian Communist Party there were only three persons who were unaffected. Out of the 17 members of the Lubchenko government, there was not even a single one left.

On January 29, 1938, Khrushchev became the general secretary of an actually non-existent Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party. In 1938, from June 13 to 18, the 14th party conference of Ukraine was held, at which time Khrushchev became the First Secretary of the of the Communist Party in Ukraine and the chairman of the Council of Ministers at that time. There is no doubt that in order to become a full-fledged member of the Central Committee, Khrushchev had to prove to Stalin that he was worthy of this promotion. When Stalin was executing the whole leadership of the Communist Party, as well as the whole so-called Parliament of Ukraine, he did not send anyone but Khrushchev as his most trusted man to Ukraine. In 1939 became a full member of the Politburo, the highest decision-making body of the Communist Party.

Great Patriotic War

At the outset of Great Patriotic War, Khrushchev coordinated the unsuccessful defense of Ukraine, while his family was evacuated to Kuibyshev. The battle of Stalingrad (1942-43) was one of the pivotal engagements of the Great Patriotic War between Nazi and Soviet forces. Soviet forces ultimately repulsed the Nazi advance, frustrating Hitler's hopes for a quick victory, and assuring hit ultimate defeat. Khrushchev was a political commissar during the battle of Stalingrad.

Khrushchev was at Stalingrad when the German assault began in August 1942 and throughout the awful months that followed. Khrushchev's service at Stalingrad apparently pleased Stalin, as Khrushchev was decorated and promoted in the Communist party afterwards [the Stalingrad campaign was not run by Nikita Khrushchev, who played a rather minor role in the overall scheme of things, but in the movie Enemy at the Gates, Bob Hoskins does quite well at portraying Khrushchev in all his warty peasant earthiness].

Nikita Khrushchev: [addressing a roomful of Soviet political officers] My name... is Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev. I've come to take things in hand here. This city... is not Kursk, nor is it Kiev, nor Minsk. This city... is Stalingrad. *Stalingrad*! This city bears the name of the Boss. It's more than a city, it's a symbol. If the Germans... capture this city... the entire country will collapse. Now... I want our boys to raise their heads. I want them to act like they have *balls*! I want them to stop shitting their pants! That's your job. As political officers... I'm counting on you. [he looks at one man]

Nikita Khrushchev: You. What's your suggestion?

Sweating Officer: [visibly nervous] Sh-shoot all the other generals who have retreated, and their chiefs of staff, too.

Stammering Officer: [Khrushchev moves down the line to another man] M-m-m-make some examples. D-d-d-d-d-d-deport the families of the d-d-d-deserters -

Nikita Khrushchev: [turning away] Yes, that's all been done.

Danilov: [from the back of the room] Give them hope!

Khrushchev later described his experiences at the pivotal Battle of Stalingrad. He was then part of the operation that removed the bodies of thousands of German soldiers, and burned them in pyres, before the spring got warm and brought the threat of disease. (p. 199). He adds the following detail, " Around Stalingrad we found dead German soldiers who had been stripped half naked. Their trousers and boots were often missing. It wasn’t the wolves who had gotten to them. It was the work of pillagers, I’m sorry to say. I think probably both soldiers and civilians had taken part in the pillaging." (p. 199).

Khrushchev was later a political commissar of the 1st Ukrainian Front, where his deputy was Leonid Brezhnev. Khrushchev was directly responsible for "clearing Ukraine from hostile elements." At least 80,000 people were sent to death following the orders signed by him. He was partially to blame for the destruction of the age-old continuity in the rural life which came about as a result of "the accelerated building of communism."

Return to Ukraine

During the War, Khrushchev served as a security general in the NKVD. During the war and after, Khrushchev was assigned by Stalin to take control and wipe out the "bourgeois" nationalist forces in Ukraine. Khrushchev was heavily engaged in the liquidation of many individuals and groups connected with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). He also inflicted damages, physical and personal, upon the populace which supported contingents of this army.

After the conclusion of the war attacks continued under Khrushchev and his cohorts continued against the Ukrainian liberation forces. It was not only continued, but also the most terrifying methods were applied after the war. This was not only against the members of the Ukrainian partisan movement but also against Ukrainian population, especially in those regions where the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was very active.

Khrushchev presided over the forced Russification of UKraine in the post-war years. In the post-war years, Khrushchev coordinated the Soviet struggle against the Ukrainian Insurrection Army and national liberation underground movement in Western Ukraine. Khrushchev carried out "political and ideological campaigns" against "Ukrainian nationalism" and against "cosmopolitanism that knows no allegiance to the native land." Most of the victims of these campaigns were young intellectuals, artists, writers and musicians.

In 1946-1947 famine struck another blow in Ukraine. The famine began with a drought that devastated the southern oblasts of Ukraine. Instead of organizing aid to this region, Stalin cynically connected this famine to manifestations of "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism." In the spring of 1947 Khrushchev, wrote several letters to Moscow. According to documented proof in the form of memoirs, Stalin called Khrushchev a "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalist" and categorically forbade any assistance to Ukraine. Khrushchev's attitude led Stalin to demote him at the end of 1947, but Stalin called him back to Moscow two years later to lead the Moscow City Party. Determined not to be displaced again, Khrushchev consolidated his power, often clashing with Georgy Malenkov.

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Page last modified: 18-01-2016 18:36:45 ZULU