b. 17 April, 1894, Kursk Gubernia, Russia, d. 11 September 1971, Moscow

Khrushchev was First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine from 1938 to 1949, except for nine months in 1947. Essentially Stalin’s envoy in Ukraine, Khrushchev oversaw numerous cycles of repression in Ukraine. Born into poverty he joined the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) in 1918 and rose through the ranks to become a member of the Central Committee in 1934. He became head of the Moscow Party organization soon after, and was instrumental in carrying out the purges of the Great Terror of 1936-38.

In 1938 he was transferred to Ukraine, and oversaw the execution of thousands of Ukrainians in the last year of the Terror. When Halychyna and Volyn were incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR in 1939 Khrushchev oversaw the massive repressions carried out there from 1939-41. As the Red Army re-occupied Ukraine in 1943 and 1944 Khrushchev was responsible for carrying out another round of purges, this time of people who were thought to have collaborated with the German authorities. Khrushchev also directed the brutal struggle against the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and civilians who supported their struggle for Ukrainian independence.

After Stalin’s death Khrushchev sought to distance himself from the man who had served so loyally, and after emerging victorious from a power struggle within the Politburo, in 1956 Khrushchev launched his destalinization campaign, delivering a secret speech at the 20th Party Congress in which he denounced Stalin’s crimes but made no mention of his own culpability in carrying them out. As General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev’s frequent shifts in policy and often outlandish behavior cost him support within the upper eschelons of the Party leadership and he was deposed in 1964. The end of Khrushchev’s rule in 1964 saw the end of the ‘thaw,’ a period of cautious liberalization of Soviet life, and a return to Stalinist methods. From 1964 until his death in 1971 Khrushchev was confined to his country home, under virtual house arrest.