109. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1

    • Khrushchev Remembers

The Department of State recently organized an interesting roundtable discussion on the book Khrushchev Remembers.2 The participants included Ambassadors Kennan and Thompson, as well as Sovietologists from government agencies, including the NSC staff.

The following are the highlights of the discussion, as reported to you in a memorandum from Secretary Rogers (Tab A).3

  • —The participants were unanimous that the book was “authentic” Khrushchev, but had passed through several censors and could [Page 323] therefore not be accepted uncritically. Time hints that actual tape recordings were part of the materials received, and were validated by voice print. Time paid $350–400,000 to a numbered account in a Swiss bank.4
  • Khrushchev himself was probably unaware of the operation with Time, but some members of his family probably were involved. Their purpose was to raise misgivings about the increasingly conservative policies of the present regime.
  • —An understanding of the extent of official Soviet involvement in the entire operation is crucial to any understanding of the import of the book, but the information currently available is not sufficient to permit informed judgments. The Soviet KGB became aware of the flow of material at some point, but perhaps too late to stop it.
  • —Most of the participants doubted that the operation was sponsored by any high-level Soviet political leader. Nevertheless, the effect of the book’s appearance cannot fail to heighten tension with the leadership, since the major criticism is directed against many of the current domestic policies of the Politburo.

No doubt the mystery of this affair will continue to intrigue Kremlinologists for a long time. It is interesting that in contrast to the American consensus that the book is largely “authentic” and sponsored by the Khrushchev family, some British Sovietologists are convinced that it is totally an operation of the KGB, while others blame the CIA. Some even blame both simultaneously

All seem to agree, however, that even with the doubts hanging over the book, it does not add much to what is already known of the period covered. Many of the anecdotes and descriptions of events are almost identical to Khrushchev stories previously told by him.

If you have the time, you may want to read some of the memorandum since it is one of the more fascinating tales of intrigue to appear in a long time.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 714, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. XII. Secret; Nodis. Sent for information. Sonnenfeldt, who attended the round-table discussion, forwarded a draft of this memorandum, based largely on Rogers’s memorandum to the President (see footnote 3 below), to Kissinger on February 5. According to a note and attached correspondence profile, the President saw the memorandum on February 17.
  2. The Bureau of Intelligence and Research hosted the discussion on January 11. For further discussion of Khrushchev’s memoirs, see Document 74.
  3. Dated February 2; attached but not printed.
  4. The President underlined this sentence.