The Life Story of Nikita Khrushchev

His story is something like a fairy tale. A humble young peasant boy,
born to a world of famine and poverty with 100 million peasants just like
him, works and fights his way up the political ladder of Russia to one day
become its most powerful force, simultaneously holding the offices of
Premier of the U.S.S.R. and First Secretary of the Communist Party. It
seems incredible, but it should be remembered that Nikita Khrushchev did
not accomplish this feat without much sacrifice and hard work on his part.
Coming from virtually nothing, he struggled for many years to rise among
the ranks in Revolutionary Russia before he achieved the position of a
widely-loved ruler and powerful, determining force in international
affairs. And although, in the end, he was cast down from this climactic
position, it was not before this loquacious and personable man had employed
his keen and incisive mind toward making many gains for and improvements in
twentieth-century Russia.

To truly understand how humble and common his beginnings were, one must
understand the situation in Russia toward the end of the nineteenth
century. Serfdom had only recently been abolished, and, as a result, there
was a severe shortage of land and widespread poverty and illiteracy. Only
the strongest and cleverest were able to make a living from their new-found
freedom; most just struggled to survive. It was among this majority, on
April 17, 1894, that Nikita Sergeievich Khrushchev was born. As a boy, he
lived in Kalinovka, a poor villiage in the Ukraine, in an izba, a mud hut
with a thatched roof, with his grandfather, a large family, and the
family's animals. His father, it is said, lived his life with the ambition
to buy a horse, but he never saved enough money to do so. In the end, the
family was forced to give up their home and move to Yuzovka in another part
of the Ukraine.

Throughout his childhood, Nikita was forced to work to survive. His
education amounted to only two or three years in the village school, for he
was forced to go to work herding cows when he was nine. Following that, he
was em- ployed as many things, including a farm hand, a factory worker, and
finally a miner in the coal pits. It was at this time that his
determination to better himself was first made apparent, for, rather than
letting himself be destined forever to work in the pits, he offered his
services in all areas of the job, including the development of pit-heads,
elevators for the mines. This was also the time in which the young
Khrushchev's rebellious nature began to surface, but rather than to
striking or union-organizing, it was applied toward politics. It all began
with a visit to the mines in 1917 by a man called Kaganovich, who was sent
to recruit miners for the Revolution. Nikita, who was 23 and viewed this
man as both a romantic figure and an opportunity to break from his social
boundaries, joined his Bolshevik group and, by doing so, took his first of
many steps in his forthcoming rise to political power.

Soonafter, Khrushchev, a loyal but not very active Bolshevik member,
became involved with the Communist party as well. Prior to this point, he
had been exempt from military service due to his indispensibility in the
local coal industry. Also, he had been responsible for a family, as he had
married his wife, Galina, during his years in the coal mines, and now had
two children (Leonid and Julia), which made him want to remain near
Yuzovka. However, in 1919, that rebellious, power-seeking inner sense of
Nikita's got the best of him, and he went off to join the Red Army. When
the war ended, Khrushchev, whose main objective had been to emerge as a
politician until he found how difficult it was to compete with the
"higher-born," at least had succeeded in proving himself to be a loyal and
useful figure. Soonafter, he returned home with the task of organizing a
local Communist party.

When he arrived back in Yuzovka, however, he found the area, along with
much of the Ukraine, suffering due to a great famine. Peasants were forced
to eat bark, grass, leather and one another to survive, and many died,
including Khrushchev's wife. It was a very sad and difficult time for
Nikita, but he retaliated against his depression by devoting himself
wholeheartedly toward the reorganization of Russia. At once he set about
to restore local factories and increase coal production, steps he
considered vital in order to get the