Nikita Khrushchev’s Memoirs: Part II

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

As noted in the previous post, Little, Brown and Company published the memoir of Nikita Khrushchev, KHRUSHCHEV REMEMBERS, in late December 1970.[1] The question of authenticity of the book was of interest to all readers, but critically important to American officials in order to assess its value for an understanding of the Soviet Union.

The Central Intelligence Agency’s WEEKLY SUMMARY of December 18, 1970, discussed publication of the book as follows:[2]

“The publication of Khrushchev’s reminiscences has returned to the limelight after six years the figure of the quirky, dynamic former leader, and with it . . . the Soviet leadership’s problem of Stalin’s image.”

In mid-December 1970, Hedley Donovan, editor-in-chief at Little, Brown and Company, publisher of KHRUSHCHEV REMEMBERS, sent Secretary of State William Rogers an advance copy of the book. In forwarding the book to the Secretary, the Department’s Bureau of European Affairs wrote:

“The book covers the entire span of Khrushchev’s career . . . .   Chapter 13 on the 1955 Geneva Summit Conference, 17 on the Berlin Crises, and 20 on the Cuban Crisis are especially interesting to an American reader. Our estimate of the memoirs is that they are genuine Khrushchev, although full of omissions and distortions, the most important being Khrushchev’s own ouster in 1964.  They are not memoirs in the formal sense of the word, and of course are self-serving. However, they contribute to our understanding of the environment in which Khrushchev and his successors operate. As such, they are a unique and invaluable guide to life in the Soviet leadership.”[3]

On January 11, 1971, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the Department of State hosted an interagency discussion about the book. The only participants identified by name were two former U.S. ambassadors to the USSR – George F. Kennan and Llewellyn E. Thompson. Afterwards, the Department prepared the following summary of the discussion. Secretary Rogers sent a copy to President Nixon.[4]

“The following summarizes what we know and surmise about the origin of the materials and the implication of the book for the current Soviet leadership and its policies.”

In late March 1971, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research produced the following report on KHRUSHCHEV REMEMBERS.[5]

“Kremlinologists the world over, bored to tears by the current lackluster Soviet leadership, received a badly needed shot in the arms . . . when Time, Inc., announced that it was publishing the reminiscences of Nikita Sergeyvich Khrushchev . . . .”

snf-pol-6-ussr-rses-15-1

Research Study, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, The “Krushchev Remembers” Caper, March 22, 1971. Abstract, p. i.

snf-pol-6-ussr-rses-15-2

Research Study, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, The “Krushchev Remembers” Caper, March 22, 1971, Abstract, p. ii.

snf-pol-6-ussr-rses-15-3

Research Study, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, The “Krushchev Remembers” Caper, March 22, 1971, P. 1.

snf-pol-6-ussr-rses-15-4

Research Study, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, The “Krushchev Remembers” Caper, March 22, 1971, P. 2.

snf-pol-6-ussr-rses-15-5

Research Study, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, The “Krushchev Remembers” Caper, March 22, 1971, P. 3.

snf-pol-6-ussr-rses-15-6

Research Study, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, The “Krushchev Remembers” Caper, March 22, 1971, P. 4.


Footnotes

[1] Nikita Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1970).

[2] Directorate of Intelligence, WEEKLY SUMMARY, December 18, 1970, pp. 6-7, RDP79-00927A008400040001, CREST System, National Archives at College Park.

[3] Memorandum, Bureau of European Affairs to Secretary of State William Rogers, December 22, 1970, attached to William Rogers to Hedley Donovan, December 23, 1970, file POL 6 USSR, 1970-73 Subject-Numeric File, RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.

[4] INR Roundtable Discussion of Khrushchev Remembers, n.d., attached to Secretary of State Memorandum for the President, February 2, 1971, file POL 6 USSR, 1970-73 Subject-Numeric File, RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.

[5] Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Research Study RSES-15, March 22, 1971, file POL 6 USSR, 1970-73 Subject-Numeric File, RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.

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2 Responses to Nikita Khrushchev’s Memoirs: Part II

  1. Nikita Khrushchev’s son, Sergei, complimented my research on the Soviet invasion of Korea and Manchuria at the end of WWII and the downing of an American B-29 by Soviet fighters on August 29, 1945. If you have any question for him regarding his father, I’d be more than happy to pass it on.

    Like

  2. M'Lisa Whitney says:

    Terrific article, David! Thank you!

    Like

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