INT: Did Khrushchev take it on a personal level?

OT: Yes. Particularly after that. He was again in difficulties, as he was in the Fifties, before that, when there was no response from the American side to all those moves which in Moscow they thought were very positive moves towards relaxation of international tensions. And this time, too, that put him in a quandary, because the others were saying, "Look the Americans are doing these things which are completely unacceptable to us." In fact, I recall reading somewhere that General Goodpastor said that "This is tantamount to an act of war," these flights were. (Clears throat) And therefore, after that, Khrushchev's attitude towards Eisenhower changed completely, and he started making very, very rough speeches about him. (Laughs)

INT: Do you think that that, the fact that Eisenhower took personal responsibility, changed the fate of the Cold War?

OT: Well, it certainly led to the breakdown of the Paris Summit - no doubt about it. And throughout the next year, until Kennedy was elected, the situation was very tense and very... I'd say unfriendly between the two powers.

INT: Could you tell me what happened at the Paris Conference? Was there much discussion before, and what happened?

OT:... Look, how can I put that question? (Laughs)

INT: At the Paris Peace Conference (2-3 inaudible words) would be a perfect reply.


OT: On the evening of the Paris Summit, there was no clear strategy as to how to behave. But... as we were about to depart,... Khrushchev's entourage, me included, was already in the plane, and Khrushchev and Malinovsky, who was the Minister of Defence at that time, stayed behind in the airport, discussing with the members of the Politburo as to how to behave, what position to take at the summit. And when they entered the plane and the plane took off, Khrushchev gathered us around him and he said, "Look, we're going to take a very tough position, because otherwise our public simply will not understand. We'll have to make a statement saying that the President should apologise, should punish those responsible for those flights, and should say that they will not be repeated any longer." And that was the position which was taken. I may add, going back in time, that another reason, of course, was the Chinese position, because by that time they were attacking Khrushchev and the Soviet leadership in general: that they were soft on the imperialists, that this was a policy of appeasement or what not. And that was another reason for the tough stance which was taken in Paris.

INT: Leaping back slightly, there were two events in that period that sort of completely shocked America and meant a huge amount to Russia, one of which was Sputnik, and the other was the first manned flight with Yuri Gagarin. Could you tell me a little bit about Khrushchev's pride, reaction to Sputnik, first of all?

OT: Yes. Well, Khrushchev attached a great deal of importance to those flights, to the first sputnik in space and to Gagarin's flight as the first man in space, and certainly he was very happy about it. And in fact I was in New York, at the General Assembly with Gromyko in '57, during the Sputnik buzzing around over New York and making sounds, and I think it created a very great impression in the United States. I recall we had a conversation with Foster Dulles, at his home somewhere in the suburbs of Washington, and the first thing Dulles said... on meeting Gromyko, he said, "I want to congratulate you on this great feat of science, the Sputnik, which we can hear flying over us." And Gagarin's flight certainly was a great event in the country in general. I recall when he came to Moscow, and there were enormous crowds welcoming him, lining the streets.

(Change tapes)



CR #10164




(A bit of preliminary talk)

INT: Can I ask you, sir, about 1957, when there was apparently an attempted coup to remove Khrushchev - what happened, and what was his reaction?

OT: In '57 - by that time there was a strong feeling about... some of the other members of the Politburo... was that Khrushchev was moving too quickly in regard to the West. And apparently there were some differences on some internal policies which Khrushchev was promoting. And in actual fact, the majority of the full members of the Politburo were against Khrushchev by that time. And there was some vehement discussion on the Politburo about the need to remove Khrushchev. There was an idea to appoint him Minister of Agriculture or something of that sort. But in the Central Committee there were other feelings, and some of the people who were close to Khrushchev - Marshal Zhukov, for instance, or Madam Furtsova, who was head of the Moscow Central... Moscow Party -m, they started mobilising the others including those in the provinces, to come as quickly as possible to Moscow to support Khrushchev. And finally, a group of the members of the Central Committee approached the members of the Politburo, saying that "We insist on a full meeting of the Central Committee." And there was an attempt to thwart that, but it didn't work out, and they finally had to give up and agree to a full meeting of the Central Committee. But by that time it was obvious that the vast majority of the members of the Central Committee were on the side of Khrushchev. And when the Central Committee met, it was a full victory for Khrushchev. So that was that. Later on, I remember Kosygin, who was, I think, alternate member of the Politburo, saying that he was fon the side of Khrushchev, because, as he put it - he said, "I was sure that if those conservatives come back, blood would flow again, like in Stalin's time."

INT: Very interesting. During that period, particularly building up to that period, the Americwere fed a constant stream of films and propaganda saying that Russia was the Evil Empire, they were out for world domination. What was the case in Russia - did they want to dominate the world?

OT: I don't think so. Of course, theoretically there was always the feeling that sooner or later in other countries, the Communist parties would come to power. Although I should mention that at the 20th Party Congress, where Khrushchev made that famous speech about Stalin's crimes, there were two important changes made in the Communist doctrine, if I may put it that way: one being that a new war was not inevitable, although Stalin thought that sooner or later a new war, perhaps between the capitalist countries, not necessarily involving the Soviet Union, but that a new war was sooner or later inevitable. That was thrown out of the doctrine. And the other was that socialism in various countries... or rather that Communist parties in various countries, or left-wing parties, whatever you call them, need not necessarily come to power through violent means, that it might be through parliamentary means, which were rather important doctrinal changes. As I said, there was never any intention of dominating the world through violent means or through war, particularly after it was realised that a new war would lead to the end of civilisation, if not to the end of mankind altogether.

INT: Excellent answer. So what led, do you think, to...

OT: I would add to that, that of course... in the doctrine, Marxist-Leninist doctrine you were supposed to believe that Communism would prevail; but this was a little like the Second Coming of Christ. You were supposed to believe in it, but very few do. (Laughs)