April 15, 1894: Happy Birthday, Nikita Khrushchev!

Khrushchev was Premier of the Soviet Union from 1958 to 1964, and was a major force behind the de-Stalinization process. He encouraged a modest amount of artistic liberalization, and made attempts at reforming the Soviet education system.

Under Khrushchev, Soviet nuclear missiles were stationed in Cuba in October of 1962 (despite Cuban President Fidel Castro’s reluctance). After weeks of high tensions, Khrushchev and President John F. Kennedy reached an agreement wherein Soviet missiles were removed from Cuba, resulting in a perceived loss by the Soviets. It was not publicly announced until years later that the U.S. also removed missiles that had been station in Turkey.

In October 1964, Soviet leaders, including Leonid Brezhnev, orchestrated an overthrow of Khrushchev. Nikita Khrushchev died September 11, 1971. He was denied a state funeral, and his death received little state media coverage.