76. Despatch From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State0

No. 739


  • Conversation with Khrushchev

Supplementing my telegram #2665,1 the following points developed in my conversation with Khrushchev on the occasion of the luncheon given for Averell Harriman on June 25.

During the course of the luncheon Khrushchev talked about the current Plenum of the Central Committee and said that in addition to the members of the Central Committee there were about 700 Communist and Government officials attending. I raised the question of the decentralization of industry and observed that a lot of their plans still appeared to be on paper. I also said it seemed to me that 104 was an unwieldy number of Councils of National Economy. Khrushchev agreed on both points and said their plans called for a consolidation of the existing Councils of National Economy, but said this would have to be done gradually. He also said they would further decentralize the operation of the economy but could not do this until their production reached higher levels. The present system did not sufficiently develop local initiative but until they had bigger margins to work with they could take no chances by not keeping tight control in Moscow.

In the course of this conversation Khrushchev remarked that both Bulganin and Kaganovich2 had supported him in his plan to decentralize. He said Molotov was opposed and that in general both Molotov and Kaganovich were opposed to any innovations or changes in the system.

There was a good deal of banter across the table between Khrushchev, Mikoyan and Kozlov. At one point Harriman asked if Khrushchev were not worried that we would try to keep Kozlov in America.3 Later on Harriman said that if Khrushchev came we would really make an effort to hold him. When Mikoyan said this would be a splendid idea, Khrushchev said that it was perfectly clear why Mikoyan supported this [Page 283] idea as he was after Khrushchev’s job. Although said with a smile, one could not help but think the remark made Mikoyan uncomfortable.

At another point in the conversation Harriman made some remark about their completing the Seven Year Plan in five years. Khrushchev said that there was one thing he did not need to worry about as this would not happen. In discussing planning, Khrushchev said their Seven Year Plan was merely an outline of a general direction since science and technology were developing so fast today that it was impossible to plan accurately seven years in advance. He referred to the tendency of the industrial ministries and other economic units to demand resources three or four times in excess of their needs but said that despite this their plans had worked out fairly well. He said this had been possible despite the fact that the Soviet Union was surrounded by American bases.

In connection with the opening of the American Exhibition, he said he had to leave for Poland on July 14 and did not plan to return until July 23 or 24. He said he would arrange his schedule, however, to be sure to be here for the opening of our Exhibition. He spoke as though he dreaded the Polish trip as he said the Poles would insist on his doing a lot of traveling and speaking, which was very tiring. He looked to be in better health than the last time I had seen him, but obviously is beginning to find he does not have the energy he once had.

I shall submit a separate report supplementing that part of our conversation which related to the German and Berlin questions.4

Llewellyn Thompson
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/6–2959. Secret; Limit Distribution.
  2. Telegram 2665 from Moscow, June 26, reported Thompson’s conversation with Khrushchev on the Berlin question; for text, see vol. VIII, Document 420.
  3. Lazar Moiseevich Kaganovich, who was expelled from the Presidium and the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party in June 1957 as a member of the “anti-Party” opposition group.
  4. See Document 78.
  5. Llewellyn Thompson Transmitted in despatch 741 from Moscow, June 29. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/6–2959)