Thirteen days in September 1959 went down in history as a visit to the United States by then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. 50 years after, newspapers are awash with articles about that trip, most of them giving detailed descriptions of Khrushchev’s encounters with farmer Roswell Garst, whose corn-raising experience he repeatedly praised while touring Soviet rural regions or addressing the Presidium of the Communist Party Central Committee. But what many seem to forget is that Khrushchev’s trans-Atlantic visit was not entirely about agriculture. There were other important highlights. Thus, he had four meetings with President Dwight Eisenhower, focused on the “German issue”. Khrushchev proposed a five-year delay in signing a peace treaty with both German states, thus enabling the Soviet Union’s allies in the anti-Hitler coalition to keep their occupational rights for another five years. In case of refusal, Moscow intended to sign a unilateral peace treaty with the German Democratic Republic, which would automatically strip the allies of their occupational rights to part of Berlin.
The proposal was rejected. Eisenhower had nothing against the Soviets signing a peace treaty with Germany but insisted that allied troops stay in Berlin. Khrushchev’s efforts to strike a compromise gave no result. The Voice of Russia observer Valentin Zorin recalls:
“Khrushchev, who himself fought on the battlefront during WWII, treated Eisenhower with great respect as a war hero. The Wall Street Journal newspaper recently slammed our May Victory Parade. But if they search through their archives, they would find a photograph showing Eisenhower on the tribune of Lenin’s Mausoleum during that parade. Incidentally, he was among the few foreigners awarded our top military order – the Order of Victory. That was also taken into account by Khrushchev, and that too was a serious factor which had its implications, both positive and negative”.
Addressing U.S. audiences, Khrushchev sought to convey two main messages: the need to improve Soviet-American relations and the rising economic and military might of Moscow. The latter was illustrated by Soviet aerospace achievements. On the eve of Khrushchev’s departure to the U.S., a Soviet interplanetary station reached the Moon. Also, the Soviet leader made his non-stop trans-Atlantic flight from Moscow to Washington aboard a new TU-114 airliner. That in itself was incredible.
Even though the visit failed to solve all problems, it became a landmark event in the history of Russian-U.S. relations. Moscow’s call for a compromise that could have prevented the “cold war” went unheeded, but one thing Khrushchev did manage to achieve was to make Americans take a different look at the Soviet Union and that was probably the main result of his visit.
Source:The Voice of Russia