Biography of KHRUSHCHEV, Nikita Sergeevič - Archontology
HomeNationsSoviet UnionHeads of GovernmentKHRUSHCHEV, Nikita Sergeevič
Nikita Khrushchev

Nikita Sergeevič Hruščëv

b. 5 [17] Apr 1894, Kalinovka, Kursk province, Russian Empire
d. 11 Sep 1971, Moscow, USSR

Title: Председатель Совета Министров СССР (Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR)
Term: 27 Mar 1958 - 15 Oct 1964
Chronology: 27 Mar 1958, appointed by decree passed at the 1st session of the 5th Supreme Soviet [1]
14 Oct 1964, resignation submitted to and accepted by the CPSU Central Committee
15 Oct 1964, discharged by decree of Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet [2]

Nikita Hruščëv had a worker background and worked as a shepherd in his youth. He was active in workers' organization before the Bolshevik revolution and joined the Russian Communist Party in 1918. In 1919, Hruščëv became a political commissar in the Red Army and fought in the campaigns against the Whites and the Poles. After the civil war, he completed his secondary education in a workers' school and went into party work in Donbass in 1924. One of the party well-known leaders, Lazar Kaganovič, noticed Hruščëv's organizational skills and supported his promotion as head of a department of the Ukrainian Communist Party Central Committee. In 1929-1931, Hruščëv studied in the Moscow Industrial Academy, where he also served as a secretary of party committee. After the graduation, Hruščëv returned to party work in the Moscow party organizations. First, he served as a party secretary of the Bauman and Krasnaya Presnya district committees (Jan 1931 - Jan 1932), but soon he was promoted to the post of second secretary of the Moscow city committee (Jan 1932 - Jan 1934). In 1934 he became first secretary of the Moscow city committee (Jan 1934 - Feb 1938) and simultaneously assumed the office of the second secretary in the Moscow regional organization. The 17th party congress elected Hruščëv a full member of the Central Committee (Feb 1934 - Mar 1966). By 1935 Hruščëv headed both municipal and regional party organization as first secretary and proved his abilities with successful accomplishment of the Moscow subway construction regarded as one of the most important projects at that time.

A plenum of the Central Committee held in January 1938 was a turning point in Hruščëv's career. He was made a candidate member of the Politburo (14 Jan 1938 - 22 Mar 1939) on place of Pavel Postyšev, who fell victim of purges, and sent to Ukraine. There Hruščëv replaced Stanislav Kosior as acting first secretary (27 Jan 1938 - Jun 1938) of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party and then was elected first secretary (Jun 1938 - 3 Mar 1947). His appointment was followed by election to the Politburo as a full member (22 Mar 1939 - 5 Oct 1952) after the 18th party congress. In Ukraine Hruščëv worked on restoring the party organization weakened by the purge, but in June 1941 he faced the rapidly advancing German invasion. At the first stage Hruščëv worked on evacuating Ukraine's industry, but then joined the army and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general (1943). When he returned to Ukraine in 1944, he also headed the national government as chairman of the Council of People's Commissars (5 Feb 1944 - 25 Mar 1946) and chairman of the Council of Ministers (25 Mar 1946 - 26 Dec 1947). For a short period in 1947 Hruščëv was replaced as first secretary in Ukraine by Lazar Kaganovič, but soon took over the office (26 Dec 1947 - 16 Dec 1949). By the end of 1949, he was called back to Moscow, where he was elected first secretary of the Moscow city party organization (Dec 1949 - Mar 1953) and a secretary of the Central Committee (16 Dec 1949 - 7 Sep 1953). He remained in the party leadership after the transformation and became a full member of the party Presidium (16 Oct 1952 - 14 Oct 1964) and its informal buro.

The death of Stalin prompted changes in the leadership and a plenum of the Central Committee held on 14 Mar 1953, assigned Hruščëv to preside at the meetings of the secretariat. Finally, his status was fixed when he was elected First Secretary of the Central Committee (7 Sep 1953 - 14 Oct 1964). However, elevation to this position did not mean absolute power for Hruščëv as he had to share it with Georgy Malenkov and other conservatives, who sat in Stalin's Politburo for years. He removed Malenkov with consent of the Politburo in February 1955 and placed Nikolaj Bulganin in charge of government. In February 1956, Hruščëv delivered the "secret speech" addressing the 20th party congress, in which he condemned Stalin's abuse of power, political purges and mass executions. The speech marked a new era in Soviet history and resulted in "Hruščëv's thaw" that witnessed the release of political prisoners and relative liberalization of the Soviet regime. However, the destalinization shocked the party elite. Its conservative part led by Molotov, Malenkov and Kaganovič attempted to remove Hruščëv from his post in June 1957, but he outmaneuvered them by calling a Central Committee plenum, which confirmed his position and expelled the anti-party group. On 26 Oct 1957, Hruščëv dismissed Marshal Georgy Zhukov from his post as minister of defense, and in March 1958 he was appointed Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers after the term of his predecessor, Nikolaj Bulganin, expired.

Abandoning the idea of a violent world revolution, Hruščëv announced a new principle of peaceful coexistence and competition with capitalist countries. However, all his efforts to revitalize the Communist system were fruitless as the party apparatus saw him as a potential threat to their positions. He introduced many industrial and agricultural initiatives as well as administrative reforms, but the economy, which worked on enthusiasm and coercion for years, remained in decline. Hruščëv's arbitrary administrative methods and a serious split with China diminished his position in 1960s. The party elite was tired of his erratic leadership and radical reforms. A plot against Hruščëv was conceived by Brežnev, Podgornyj and Shelepin. In October 1964 he was brought back from a vacation on the Black Sea to face the Central Committee plenum, which required his resignation. Realizing inevitable fall, Hruščëv signed his resignation as First Secretary and head of government accepted by the plenum on 14 Oct 1964. The next day the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet officially ended his term as chairman of the Council of Ministers. Next seven years he lived in Moscow in retirement. Biography source: [3]

[1] Ведомости Верховного Совета СССР, 1958, № 7, Ст. 145.
[2] Ведомости Верховного Совета СССР, 1964, № 43, Ст. 475.
[3] Государственная власть СССР. Высшие органы власти и управления и их руководители. 1923-1991 гг. Историко-биографический справочник / Сост. В.И.Ивкин. М.: РОССПЭН, 1999,