Khruschev Comes to America! Soviet Diplomacy Almost Brought End to Cold War 60 Years Ago!
Sixty years ago, September of 1959 saw the first Soviet leader's visit to the USA. Nikita Khrushchev's two-week-long trip to America became a historic event. Two countries, right in the middle of the Cold War, began to have a heartfelt conversation. It was a huge diplomatic victory.
Denis Davydov will tell us how Nikita Khrushchev took America by storm.
The queen of the field, corn is the main crop in the Midwest. Khrushchev came here, to Iowa, to find out how to grow it. He was concerned with the poor diet of the Soviet people, on whose tables sat only bread and potatoes. Of course, nobody was going to force-feed corn to anyone: he wanted to produce milk and meat, but for that, you need a crop to feed animals.
Over a period of 60 years, she has forgotten her Russian lessons, but she won't forget the man who taught her. Nikita Khrushchev visited her grandfather in 1959. Truth be told, the grandfather was shocked. Journalists swarmed around the first secretary like locusts. They trampled on his corn, and he used corn to shoo them away. People still remember this event of the century in this remote country town, which is so remote that you don't always get cell phone service.
Liz Garst, Roswell Garst's granddaughter: «It's the biggest thing that has ever happened in history. He strongly reminded me of my grandfather. They were both sturdy men with big bellies. They smiled a lot and made jokes».
Meanwhile, the States were getting ready to welcome the devil as soon as they learned that the commie was coming.
Keith Arbenhous, former mayor of Coon Rapids: «Were we excited? Of course! The Secret Service had flown here a month and a half prior to his visit. Many people wanted him to come. But there was one old gentleman who said, 'If Khrushchev comes here, I'll shoot him».
«Now, Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev is setting his foot on American soil for the first time».
Leaders of neither Tsarist nor Soviet Russia visited America. Amidst the Cold War, Khrushchev's delegation was looked upon like aliens coming from another, red planet.
Sergey Khrushchev, Nikita's son: «Crowds of people were standing there dull and silent. Several police cars had passed along, carrying big posters, 'Show no emotions: no angry calls or smiles».
The motorcade was taking the Khrushchevs along Washington to their first destination in the USA: Here, to Pennsylvania Avenue, in the heart of the American capital. There, you can see the White House, and, across the street, a few feet away, the guest house that used to host kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers. The floor space in the building is huge: 6,500 sq. meters (70,000 sq. feet). There are 119 rooms, with 35 of them being bathrooms and 19 bedrooms. So, in this building on 1651 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Khrushchevs spent two days.
Sergey Khrushchev: «The plumbing was connected to the CIA. They collected everything Khrushchev deposited there. Then they ran some tests and wrote a vast report that Khrushchev is in overall good health».
«We'll be covering Khrushchev's visit today, as we did yesterday and as we'll be doing for the next ten days».
Khrushchev's every move is watched by America live. 2,500 thousand journalists followed his flight to the West Coast, to Los Angeles, and even to Hollywood.
The ice of the Cold War was rapidly melting. Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra… Hollywood's high society was thrilled to meet the smiley communist. When invited to the filming of Can-Can, he wasn't shy to speak his heart, saying, «In the Soviet Union, we look into an actor's eyes, not at his butt».
But, during his visit to Los Angeles, Hollywood wasn't the place that Khrushchev wanted to see the most. The First Secretary and the Central Committee and his wife were adamant about visiting Disneyland. On their way there, however, someone threw a big tomato into the motorcade of the Soviet delegation. It didn't go unnoticed by the FBI agents, perhaps being overly cautious, they said that they wouldn't be able to ensure the safety of the guests in such a crowded place.
William Taubman, historian: «The Americans were really worried that someone would do something to Khrushchev. The people in the Soviet delegation who were responsible for Khrushchev's safety warned that if anything happened to Comrade Khrushchev, there would be...»
In the city of angels, Khrushchev was the one to explode. The anti-Soviet mayor got on his nerves by recalling the phrase, «We will bury you».
Nikita Khrushchev: «I came with serious intentions. And you want, you know, to fluff me off with your jokes. Just think about what we are talking about here. We're talking of either peace or war, either of life or death of our peoples».
There was dead silence in the audience. After a pause, Khrushchev added that he was thinking about discontinuing his visit and immediately going back to the Soviet Union.
Sergey Khrushchev: «Khrushchev went to his room and started yelling. We were sitting here, listening. And he was pointing his finger to the ceiling, indicating it wasn't meant for us but for the people who were listening in».
Then Khrushchev hugged someone in the railway station in Santa Barbara so hard that he lost his medal, but it was soon found after that. He had dinner at IBM, and, being impressed by the self-service cafeteria, would import the practice into the USSR. Sausage buns would also appear there after his return. Khrushchev liked hot dogs.
The communist met American people, and people liked him. But the main person he wanted to get to know was Eisenhower. They had a long walk in the forest at Camp David. The U.S. president even invited the guest to his villa. An excerpt from the film Cold War Roadshow.
Susan Eisenhower, Dwight's granddaughter: «We were standing at the front door, saying our goodbyes, and Khrushchev took four red badges out of his pocket. He pinned one of them onto my dress. For us, Americans, this red star was a symbol of the Soviet Union, of course».
Eisenhower's wife took the Little Octobrists' badges away from her grandchildren as soon as Khrushchev left. Seven months later, an American reconnaissance plane appeared over the Soviet Union. It was intercepted, and the U.S. president's visit to Moscow was canceled.
Lis Garst, Roswell Garst’s granddaughter: «Building nuclear bombs to reduce tension in a relationship is the stupidest thing ever. We need to remember that mutual assistance and the exchange of ideas and technology are the way to unite the world; this gives an opportunity to make it safer».
They like the plow better. In the year of the 60th anniversary of Khrushchev's visit, Iowa farmers are unveiling their own replica of the monument titled, «Beating Swords into Plowshares».
As in the USA, there is at least one white house that remembers the lessons of history.
Denis Davydov, Nikolay Koskin, Vesti: News of the Week from the United States.