On This Day…
On the 12th September 1953 Nikita Khrushchev became first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Khrushchev assumed the role some six months after the death of Joseph Stalin and held this position until October 1964 when he was ousted by opponents led by Leonid Brezhnev.
Berlin Wall, Space race and Cuban Missile Crisis
While he was the Soviet leader Khrushchev denounced Stalin and his totalitarian policies and attempted to pursue a policy of peaceful co-existence with the West. It was not however a period of calm. In 1956 he ruthlessly put down an uprising in Hungary, in 1957 Sputnik I, became the first spacecraft to orbit the earth, shocking the West and launching the space race, in 1960 an American U2 spy-plane was shot down over the Soviet Union, in 1961 the Berlin Wall was built and in 1962 he deployed ballistic missiles to Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crises brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war. The result was a Soviet humiliation and this along with an agricultural crisis and deteriorating relations with China led to Khrushchev’s downfall.