Khrushchev consolidates his power - HISTORY
Year
1957

Khrushchev consolidates his power

Nikita Khrushchev takes control in the Soviet Union by orchestrating the ouster of his most serious opponents from positions of authority in the Soviet government. Khrushchev’s action delighted the United States, which viewed him as a more moderate figure in the communist government of Russia.

Khrushchev had been jockeying for ultimate control in the Soviet Union since the death of long-time Russian dictator Joseph Stalin in March 1953. Following Stalin’s demise, the Soviet Union was ruled by a 10-member presidium. Khrushchev was only one member of this presidium, but during the following four years he moved steadily to seize total control. In June 1957, Khrushchev survived an attempt by his political opponents to remove him from the government. In July, he had his revenge. Since 1953, he had worked tirelessly to gain allies in the Soviet military and to gain control of the all-important Communist Party apparatus. On July 3, 1957, his years of work paid off as he used his important political connections and alliances to remove the three main challengers to his authority. Vyacheslav Molotov, Georgi M. Malenkov, and Lazar Kaganovich were voted off the presidium and relegated to minor government positions. Khrushchev then reigned supreme, and ruled the Soviet Union until his own ouster in 1964.

In the United States, the news of Khrushchev’s “housecleaning” was greeted with optimism. Malenkov and Molotov, in particular, had been viewed as communist “hard-liners” in the Stalinist mold. Khrushchev, on the other hand, was seen as a “moderate” who might be receptive to a more amenable relationship with the United States. In the coming years, U.S. officials were often disappointed with the newest Soviet leader, who seemed to vacillate between warm words about “peaceful coexistence” between the United States and the Soviet Union and aggressive talk about “burying” the capitalist system. Khrushchev’s power began seriously to wane in 1962. Many Soviet officials characterized his behavior as “cowardly” during the October 1962 missile crisis in Cuba and he was pushed from power in 1964. Leonid Brezhnev succeeded Nikita Khrushchev.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

TV legend Andy Griffith dies

On this day in 2012, Andy Griffith, famous for his role as the good-hearted, small-town sheriff of fictional Mayberry, North Carolina, on the iconic 1960s TV sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show,” dies at age 86 at his North Carolina home. The actor also was known for his starring role ...read more

Washington assumes command

On Cambridge common in Massachusetts, George Washington rides out in front of the American troops gathered there, draws his sword, and formally takes command of the Continental Army. Washington, a prominent Virginia planter and veteran of the French and Indian War, was appointed ...read more

Battle of Gettysburg ends

On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s last attempt at breaking the Union line ends in disastrous failure, bringing the most decisive battle of the American Civil War to an end.In June 1863, following his masterful victory at the Battle ...read more

Idaho becomes 43rd state

Idaho, the last of the 50 states to be explored by whites, is admitted to the union.Exploration of the North American continent mostly proceeded inward from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and northward from Spanish Mexico. Therefore, the rugged territory that would become Idaho ...read more

M.F.K. Fisher is born

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher is born on this day in Albion, Michigan.Her father, a fourth-generation writer, purchased a newspaper in Whittier, California, where the family moved in 1911. In 1929, Fisher moved to France with her first husband, where she developed her twin ...read more

Tom Cruise born

On this day in 1962, Thomas Cruise Mapother IV is born in Syracuse, New York. After his breakout role in the 1983 film “Risky Business,” Cruise went on to become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, appearing in a long list of critically acclaimed dramas and blockbuster action ...read more

Charter jet crashes mysteriously

On this day in 1970, a British Dan-Air charter, flying a Comet 4 turbojet, crashes into the sea near Barcelona, Spain, killing 112 people. The charter was commissioned by a tourist group who were headed for a summer vacation on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. The passengers ...read more

Mohammed V, sultan of Turkey, dies

On this day in 1918, with Turkish forces in the final months of fighting against the Allied powers during World War I, Mohammed V, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, dies at the age of 73.Born in 1844 in Constantinople, Mohammed ascended to the throne in 1909 after the forced ...read more

Operation Catapult is launched

On this day in 1940, British naval forces destroy the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, a port in Algeria, in order to prevent Germany from co-opting the French ships to use in an invasion of Britain.With the occupation of France, the German aggressor was but a Channel away from ...read more