Friday, February 4, 2022

Stalin, Beria, and Khrushchev

Stalin lost his favorite pipe. Beria arrived at Stalin’s dacha a few days later. He asked Stalin: “Did you find your pipe?” “Yes,” Stalin replied, “it was under the sofa.” Beria said, “Oops! Three people have already confessed to the crime. They have been executed.” 

After Stalin and Beria were dead, Khrushchev started narrating such stories about them. Stalin used to call Khrushchev “the round-headed fool.” One day he tapped his pipe on Khrushchev’s head and said, “It is hollow.” During the Second World War, when Stalin learned that the German forces had broken through the Russian defenses and were about to storm Stalingrad, he poured the ash from his pipe on Khrushchev’s head, and said, “This is the Roman tradition. When a Roman commander lost a battle, ash was poured over his head… this was the biggest act of humiliation that a commander could be made to endure.” 

In 1958, Khrushchev arrived in Hollywood, where he met John Wayne. He told Wayne that Stalin was annoyed by his anti-communism and he had given the order for the Duke’s assassination. There is no evidence that the Soviet assassins were trying to kill Wayne. Khrushchev claimed that when he became the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, he annulled Stalin’s assassination order. But in his memoirs, Khrushchev has not mentioned any plot to kill Wayne.

Khrushchev clumsily joined hands with the Western propaganda machine to tar Stalin with the image of a sadistic monster who purged and killed millions and followed an insane foreign policy, but the irony is that in Stalin’s time, the world didn’t come to the brink of a nuclear war—that happened in 1962, when the bumbling, brash, and impulsive Khrushchev was the Soviet General Secretary, and the debauched drug-addict and serial-womanizer, who was connected to organized crime, John F. Kennedy, was the American president; they blundered into the Cuban Missile Crisis, which could have escalated into a nuclear conflict.

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