INTERVIEW WITH SERGEI KHRUSHCHEV
INTERVIEWER: An interview with Mr. Sergei Khrushchev in his home in Cranston, Rhode Island, on the second of June 1996. Thank you very much to agreeing to the interview. The first question I would like to ask is, what views did your father have about the permanence of the Cold War? Did he believe it was a permanent feature of international relations?
SERGEI KHRUSHCHEV: When we talk about the Cold War, first of all you must understand what does it mean, Cold War, because it is not the result of the error decisions of Stalin or Churchill, Americans, British or Soviets. It was, but it was not the main point, because it was transition period between the time when the nations solved their problems through the War and now after the appearance of the nuclear weapons, also leaders understood that they could not go in this way. But they have the behaviour of the past, why it was Cold War, because it was (unintelligible) without war. And my father's thought... was different in the different time. Because in the beginning of his leadership, he still did not have this feeling, is it possible to deal with the West? Are these Western leaders really want to find some solution, always need to prepare to the war. At the end of his time, he had a strong feeling that, yes, it's possible, so he told about peace (unintelligible) that both sides, capitalism and Communism, he was Communist believer for the end of his days, can work to solve the world and to create the peace. But at the same time, it will be ideological opposition until one of the side will win. And we see that it was true. It was only not our side what won.
INT: What was his attitude particularly to the United States?
SK: He was pragmatic and for him, the United States was the example of the success. It was not so much ideological opposite side, ideological rival. And his dream was to learn from the United States how to work better and then go forward and pass United States at détente and then say good-bye to them. It was his main idea, if we will look at his time, what was is main slogan, to produce more milk and meat than United States for the person. It was not nuclear weapons, it was not an (unintelligible) on the sea, it was this and this... it was the agriculture. And second of course, he told that United States has defeated their way of thinking, they defeating our way of thinking and we cannot find solution in this matter.
INT: There was of course throughout this whole period the fear of a thermo-nuclear war. How strongly influenced was your father by that fear?
SK: My father took part in two wars, Civil War in Russia and then Second World War, so he saw everything by his own eyes. And for last of his day, he never could even watch the movies about the war on TV. He tried to shoot the channel, because he thought I cannot sleep after this. So he tried to do everything to prevent the war. And after the April first 1954, where the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Mr. Malisov presented him the paper about the nuclear weapons and specially hydro-chemic weapons, his idea was it is impossible to use these weapons in the war by purpose for your own decision and he thought it was the same feeling on the opposite side, why was tried to use this crisis in his policy, because he told no reasonable politician will do this. And from the other side, he thought if somebody can put other side in the corner, it was some circumstances through no other possibility than to answer by force. Why he tried all the time to prevent this, it was the best example, the Cuban Missiles Crisis, where when he saw that he is losing the control over this situation, he thought that it will be much better to withdraw the missiles than to try to begin to fight on Cuba.
INT: Why do you think he went ahead in the first place to station missiles on Cuba that could hit the United States very easily?
SK: Because my father wanted to be accepted, not himself, but the Soviet Union as a great power. He understood that it is impossible to do it economically, because our GNP at the time was only one fifth of America's, so it was possible to do only by the military strength. And one of the obligation of the great power to defend all your allies, if they're wrong or they're right it was no difference, it was useful for you or useless. And he became what the same like when here in 1961, President Kennedy told that he's citizen of West Berlin and he will defend this West Berlin out if it will be Soviet invasion even through the beginning they thought about war. When Americans presented to Castro to Khrushchev and really presented them because in the beginning Khrushchev and also he had no idea that he can be our ally, he held the same idea, he had to show all our allies that they will be defended. It was only one possibility to this to deploy to missiles on Cuba. It was not strategical purposes for this. It was only this to show that we're the great power and I think that he eschewed this. He saved Cuba and after this for a long time, Soviet Union was accepted as a great power. Maybe to the time when President Ford met with Brezhnev in Vladivostok and I know that people told me that Brezhnev ask you, President Ford, did you accept Soviet Union as the great power, and President answered no, and Brezhnev was very upset. But my father never asked this question.
INT: Talking about protecting areas of the world which were part of the Soviet area of influence, what was your father's attitude to countries like Poland and Hungary and others in what they called the satellite countries?
SK: His feeling to all the East European countries and Poland and Hungary, not as the satellites. He told it here, this country decided to be socialist and in future all the countries in the world will make the similar decision. So his idea was even to withdraw the Soviet troops from Poland, from Hungary and he spoke with this with Gromulko and the Party Secretary of Poland and he received the answer, no. So he want to do as much as he can to these countries, but for other side, not to pay too much, because he told you that we need the resources to our own economy.
INT: What was your father's attitude to a man like President Eisenhower? I mean, what was his feeling about him?
SK: He thought that the President is very nice person and he tried to achieve the real goals to save the peace. And he really wanted to do this, but from the other side he thought that he is very weak politician, because he thought that he was manipulated from the people who was behind him, especially by John Foster Dulles, and my father repeated many times, I remember when I sit in Geneva in 1955, just next to President and when it was time to speak to Americans, the Presidents... John Foster Dulles gave him the piece of paper and President read this and he told, I never knew with whom I negotiate, with President or somebody else. And it was very big difference in their conversations, because when they speak as a human being, the person who went through the two wars, their understanding with each other was very good and they had the same understanding how to deal with military. But when they sat to the table of the negotiations, they could not solve any problem. But in reality, they really build the foundations of the future peace relations. We sometimes think that it was only crisis, it was scandals, it was strong conversation, but in reality, they built this and President Eisenhower made the biggest part of this dirty work of the going from the Cold War for some different relations.
INT: You spoke of your father's attitude to John Foster Dulles. Could you tell me more about that?
SK: I did not speak with my father too much about Dulles. But he told that sometimes when he deal with Dulles, he feel himself safer, because he told that Dulles was the enemy of the Communism, it is true, and he was enemy of all of us, but he declare the policy on the brink of the war, on the edge of the war, but he very good know where this line and he never stepped over this. And my father thought it was much easier to deal with the strong politiciathan the weak, when you never know this real last (inaudible).
INT: We come to talk about a strong politician, the man who dominated the life of your father...
SK: (Interrupts) Maybe you will tell Valentina that you are here, when she's step in there...
INT: We come to talk about the man who dominated all aspects of Soviet life for many years and was a very powerful factor in your father's own life, and that's Stalin. What exactly was your father's attitude to Stalin?
SK: My father was close to Stalin from 1930, maybe '32, until 1953, so it was twenty years and his understanding Stalin, his feeling was very different, because in the beginning he was very strong supporter of Stalin, because he thought that Stalin is the best choice of the Soviet Union and the fighting against Trotsky and against all other politicians. But after the purges and all the cruelties, he begin to change this and specially during the war, where he began to feel himself much stronger and from the other side, begin to understood Stalin better. So I think that after the war, he really... accepted Stalin as the disaster, who killed many people, many my father's own friends, but he never spoke about this. So he was prepared for his so-called secret speech on the Twentieth Party Congress.
INT: Did your father...