8. Intelligence Report Prepared by the Office of Intelligence Research1

No. 6839

KHRUSHCHEV REACHES TOP AFTER LONG, STEADY RISE

Abstract

The resignation of G.M. Malenkov from the chairmanship of the Council of Ministers on February 8 cleared the way for Nikita S. Khrushchev to assume the position of number one authority in the Soviet Union. The course of Khrushchev’s career has now brought him to the stage where, operating from STALIN’s old vantage point as Party First Secretary, he has outdistanced all his colleagues in the accumulation of power.

Khrushchev was born in 1894, the son of a miner. He received little or no education, worked for a period in the coal fields, and joined the Party only in 1918, after the Revolution. The Party educated him and advanced him through the ranks to the important post of Moscow secretary in the mid-1930’s. STALIN accepted him in the Politburo in 1938, and sent him to the Ukraine as Moscow’s viceroy. During the first part of the war he was at Stalingrad and Voronezh. Returning to Kiev in 1943, he ruled the Ukraine with an iron hand for the next four years. Then, following an apparent set back, he returned to Moscow in 1949 to become the spokesman for the government’s kolkhoz amalgamation and resettlement program. After peasant resistance developed to some features of this, Khrushchev was publicly rebuked in early 1951 and transferred to other Party work.

Immediately after STALIN’s death in March 1953, Khrushchev occupied a position publicly subordinate to the top three leaders— Malenkov, Beriya, and Molotov. He played his hand well, however, and quickly replaced Malenkov as first-ranking Party secretary. Khrushchev’s discernible rise began after the fall of Beriya in June 1953. He assumed direction of the government’s new farm program and began to tinker with foreign affairs. During 1954 his activities and publicity in domestic and foreign fields overshadowed those of his Kremlin colleagues. He paid visits to the three most important countries in the Soviet orbit—Communist China, Czechoslovakia, [Page 29]and Poland. Although lacking an important bureaucratic position, he acted as though he occupied one and participated increasingly in governmental affairs.

In his political views, Khrushchev has been careful to reflect doctrinaire positions. This is particularly true of his statements of foreign affairs. Toward the West he is outspoken in his hostility, and repeats the dialectical stereotypes with seeming conviction. In internal affairs he follows closely the standard Party line with its traditional emphases.

Khrushchev’s personality is forceful, dogmatic, and blunt. He is essentially a simple type with few inhibitions and little sophistication. He seems to owe his present position to a combination of dogged perseverance, ruthlessness, and native shrewdness. Unlike most Bolsheviks he is reputed to have a sense of humor. On occasions, especially when he has had too much to drink, he has been heard making indiscreet statements. Khrushchev is married, has a large family and, contrary to rumor, is not Malenkov’s brother-in-law.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 66 D 70, USSR. Secret. A note on the source text indicates that the report was prepared in collaboration with the Division of Biographic Information and was based on information available through February 8, 1955. The 15-page body of the report and the 6-page chronology of Khrushchev’s activities since STALIN’s death are not printed.