Khrushchev’s Shoe

Order, order! Do you kids want to be like the real U.N., or do you just want to squabble and waste time? — Principal Skinner, “Das Bus”

The inconsistent, perhaps apocryphal story of the famous Nikita Khrushchev shoe incident looks to be forever muddled by the vagaries of history, but I’ll give you what I got.

At a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in October 1960, a Filipino delegate named Lorenzo Sumulong got into it with the Soviet Premier, calling out Mother Russia for its imperialist ways:

It is our view that the declaration proposed by the Soviet Union should cover the inalienable right to independence not only of the peoples and territories which yet remain under the rule of Western colonial Powers, but also of the peoples of Eastern Europe and elsewhere which have been deprived of the free exercise of their civil and political rights and which have been swallowed up, so to speak, by the Soviet Union.

Bo-ring. Not so boring was Premier Khrushchev’s reaction to the speech, as he rushed up to the Filipino speaker and strangled him to death right in front of the Assembly.

Well, not really. Instead, Khrushchev took the pulpit and did one of the following:

  1. Banged his fist.
  2. Banged his fist, while holding his shoe in the same hand.
  3. Banged his shoe.

In his own memoirs, Khrushchev supports door #3, saying, “I took off my shoe and pounded it on desk so that our protest would be louder.” But a footnote by the editor says that this recollection is false. Oy vey!

Other observers have similarly conflicting accounts of the incident. Unfortunately, there were no cameras rolling, so no documentation of the event has survived. So there it is: no moral. Except that this photo is definitely a scrap-job (he certainly wouldn’t be banging the top of the shoe, right?):

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2 Responses to Khrushchev’s Shoe

  1. Sunny says:

    Whatever side of the shoe he bangs at the doctored photo, Time magazine still believes it. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1843506_1843505_1843496,00.html

  2. as a child of the 60s i had such a clear picture of this in my mind that I was certain I would find footage…so I guess my mind visualized a life magazine cover or so due to the conversations of the adults around me!
    M.C.V. Egan
    The Bridge of Deaths

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