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Behind "Khrushchev Remembers"

Book Review
Published: 1994-05-01
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One of the more interesting escapades of the Cold War was the publication in the early 1970s of the book Khrushchev Remembers. The circumstance surrounding the publication of the memoirs of [then-retired former Soviet premier] Nikita Khrushchev under the guidance of Time, Inc., were mysterious and mystifying. Khrushchev's thoughts had been secretly taped in the Soviet Union and then miraculously transported to the United States to be transcribed and published, indicating that a special deal had been worked out between the US and the USSR – with the CIA and the KGB acting as the agents in the transaction.

The Soviet leader in those days was Leonid Brezhnev, and he was having trouble with the unreconstructed Stalinists in the Communist Party. He needed to do something dramatic to blunt the challenge to his power by these diehard reactionaries. So, a scheme was hatched whereby Khrushchev, who was still popular with the masses, would secretly dictate his memoirs and strongly criticize Stalin and his policies, particularly those favored by Brezhnev's opponents.

But in the tightly controlled Soviet society, there was no way that Khrushchev's views could be published. There was no such thing as freedom of speech in the Communist empire. However, if the tapes, after being reviewed by Brezhnev's people, were to be smuggled out of the USSR to the US, they could be published there as a best-selling book and later smuggled back into the Soviet Union for distribution to the public by the underground network. The Kremlin would then be able to feign helplessness and shrug its shoulders.

Meanwhile, the Stalinists would be dealt a serious set back, which would be underscored by the Kremlin's lack of punishment to Khrushchev. And in the United States, the Nixon-Kissinger team would be happy with the proof that Stalinist Russia was a thing of the past and the Brezhnev regime was one Americans could live with. Although Soviet people might understand what had really transpired, the gullible American public would accept Khrushchev Remembers as genuine – especially if the media went along with the plan. And that is precisely what happened. The Khrushchev tapes were "smuggled" out of the Soviet Union, right under the nose of the KGB, by a young correspondent at the Time news bureau in Moscow. Months later, after the book had been edited and put in bound galleys in New York, this same daring journalist traveled to Helsinki to give the KGB one last look at Khrushchev Remembers before it was published.

The name of the young Time correspondent and the CIA's helping hand: Strobe Talbott [who recently became President Clinton's Deputy Secretary of State].

Victor Marchetti served for 14 years with the Central Intelligence Agency, where he rose to be executive assistant to the deputy director. He is co-author of The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, published in 1974. Marchetti's address to the Ninth IHR Conference (1989), "Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History," appeared in the Fall 1989 Journal. He is presently editorpublisher of the newsletter New American View, P.O. Box 999, Herndon, VA 22070. This item is reprinted, by permission, from the March 1, 1994, issue ofNew American View.


A Confession

It is a fact that more than half of the membership of the tiny pre-Soviet Lithuanian Communist Party, about eight hundred people, were Jews. It is also a fact that these Jewish Communists in 1940 and 1941 played prominent roles in the Soviet occupation administration of Lithuania. The most notorious interrogators of the Lithuanian branch of the Soviet security police, the NKVD, were Lithuanian Jewish Communists, and many such Jewish Communists manned the NKVD detachments, which randomly arrested and deported to Siberia the alleged class enemies and other so-called "anti-Soviet elements" of Lithuania.

... No wonder then that as soon as the Lithuanians got rid of the Soviets (this they did in a national uprising on the first day of the Soviet-German war [June 22, 1941], taking control of the country long before the German troops were able to occupy it), a series of wild Jewish pogroms broke out in the country, the first Jewish pogroms on Lithuanian soil in the whole 600-year-old history of Lithuanian-Jewish cohabitation. It is believed that in Kaunas alone 3,800 Jews were killed during these pogroms. Along with these spontaneous acts of violence the Lithuanian rebel troops started indiscriminately arresting Jews for their "collaboration with the Soviets" in a more organized but not less random fashion. In Kaunas, the thus-arrested alleged Jewish collaborators of the Soviets were assembled in a huge garage and cruelly massacred there the next day. My father was one of the victims of that Lietukis garage massacre. The German troops marched into Kaunas on the day of this massacre only to witness the last instants of that bloody orgy .

... As a Jew, I must reject the assumption that we Jews forever were just the faultless and powerless victims of other peoples' abuse and injustices, and must admit our own faults, such as, for example: our certain insensitivity to some of the grave problems facing our gentile landsmen; our self-centeredness that only too often urged some of us to seek our particular goals without giving much consideration to how the achievement of these goals would affect the interests of others; the frivolousness that more than once led quite a number of us to assume that what is good for Jews must be even better for the gentiles. Too many of us, led by such considerations, were more than ready to engage ourselves thoughtlessly in all kinds of subversive and revolutionary activities threatening the integrity and even survival of our host countries. For this we have to confess our guilt.
—From an essay by Aleksandras Shtromas, a professor of political science at Hillsdale College (Michigan) who was interned during the Second World War in the Kaunas (Lithuania) ghetto. Published in The World & I (Washington, DC), February 1992, pp. 572, 577.


Stalingrad and Dachau

"The scale of the defeat of the Sixth Army at Stalingrad was unprecedented in German history. Of the 250,000 soldiers of the Sixth Army who battled their way to Stalingrad in the fall of 1942, nearly 150,000 had been killed or wounded by January of 1943. Of the 91,000 who were captured by the Russians, fewer than 6,000 ever returned to Germany. The chances of surviving Dachau, one German has told me, were more than five times as great as the chances of surviving Stalingrad."
—Timothy W. Ryback, in The New Yorker, Feb. 1, 1993, p. 60.


Rewriting History

"The Holocaust was [once] regarded as a side story of the much larger story of World War II. Now one thinks of World War II as a background story and the Holocaust as a foreground story."
—Michael Berenbaum, Project Director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Georgetown University theology professor. Quoted in The Washington Times, Jan. 10, 1991.

Additional information about this document

Author(s) Victor Marchetti
Title Behind "Khrushchev Remembers", Book Review
Sources The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 14, no. 3 (May/June 1994), pp. 43f.
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Dates published: 1994-05-01, first posted on CODOH: Dec. 6, 2012, last revision: n/a
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