Nikita Khrushchev was born on April 17, 1894 in Kalinovka, Russia. His family moved to the Ukraine in 1908 and he only received about two years of formal education before being made an apprentice metalworker.
After World War 1 started, Nikita stayed home and helped to organize trade unions to protest worker oppression. When the Bolshevik revolution began in 1917, he took up arms with the Red Army until the end of the war. In 1918, he was made an official member of the Communist Party and given a management position in the city of Kiev.
In 1931, he moved to Moscow and was promoted to the position of 1st Secretary of the Moscow City Committee in 1935. He was promoted again to become the 1st Secretary of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party in 1938.
In 1939, he was elected to the Politburo, but left after the start of World War 2 to serve in the Russian Army as a Lieutenant General. After the Germans invaded western Russia, he was placed in charge of the defense of the Ukraine, but failed to defend it and was recalled to Moscow. After that, he was made a political officer for the southern Soviet Union for the remainder of the war.
When Stalin died in 1953, a power struggle occurred, but Khrushchev rose to the top and seized the position of Communist Party Leader on September 7, 1953. He also made sure that his opponent, Lavrenty Beria, was executed shortly after to remove threat of a coup. In a speech on February 23, 1956, he denounced Stalin's leadership and promised to reform the Soviet Union.
In early 1958, he was appointed prime minister and on March 27, 1958, he was declared Premier of the Soviet Union. After taking the reins of the economy, he began to focus workers on the production of consumer products rather than raw materials.
In 1959, he invited United States President Richard Nixon for a tour of the Soviet Union and revealed his opinion that the US was a rival and not an evil country. However, the visit did not entirely thaw relations between the two countries and the two plunged further into cold war.
During a United Nations conference on September 29, 1960, Khrushchev made a fool of himself by interrupting speeches by talking loudly in Russian and pounding his desk, interrupting the British prime minister. He also verbally assaulted several other UN delegates, even calling the Filipino ambassador a lackey of capitalism.
In 1961, the United States deployed nuclear missiles to Turkey, presenting a threat to the Soviet Union. Khrushchev decided to deploy similar missiles to Cuba to create a more equalized military situation and did so in July of that year. When the United States discovered the presence of the missiles, a standoff was started that nearly caused nuclear war.
On October 22, 1961, the United States formed a blockade around Cuba to prevent the arrival of new missiles and called for the Soviet Union to remove the missiles already there. After an emergency session at the United Nations and much diplomatic prodding, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles as long as the missiles in Turkey were removed.
The entire situation created a huge embarrassment for Khrushchev, who was perceived as having backed down to the Americans. Fidel Castro felt betrayed by the Soviet Union and relations between the two countries never completely healed.
On October 14, 1964, Khrushchev was removed from power by opponents in the Communist Party, who termed him an embarrassment to the Soviet Union. He was placed under house arrest and died on September 11, 1971 in Moscow.