Eleanor Roosevelt Interview with Nikita Khrushchev
3 October 1957
NEW YORK—I can best begin this series of articles on the Soviet Union by letting Nikita S. Khrushchev, leader of the Communist Party of the USSR, speak for himself. I was asked to submit my questions, but Mr. Khrushchev did not have them before him when I appeared. And he answered my questions as though he was speaking completely spontaneously.
This first article will cover only in part some of the recorded answers, and while I have his answers in Russian, I can give you only the translation as it came from my interpreter, Mrs. Anna Larova, who told me she had translated for my husband at Yalta.
I opened by asking her to tell Mr. Khrushchev that I appreciated his taking the time to see me when he was on vacation and I added that I had enjoyed and had been much interested by my trip in his country. Mr. Khrushchev answered, "Politicians never cast aside political obligations."
Here are my questions and his replies:
ROOSEVELT: I came to the USSR for the newspapers I write for and to use what information I could gather for lectures which I will be giving in the coming year, but I have the hope that being here I can gain greater understanding and clear up some of the questions we get at home from some of our people who do not understand certain things they hear about the USSR.
KHRUSHCHEV: I appreciate your coming here and I want to speak of President Franklin Roosevelt. We respect him and remember his activities because he was the first to establish diplomatic relations between the U.S.A. and the USSR. President Roosevelt understood perfectly well the necessity of such relations between our two countries.
He was a great man, a capable man who understood the interests of his own country and the interests of the Soviet Union. We had a common cause against Hitler and we appreciate very much that Franklin Roosevelt understood this task, which was a common task of our two countries. I am very happy to greet you in our land and to have a talk here.
ROOSEVELT: Mr. Khrushchev, may I ask the questions which I have submitted? Then if you have any questions to ask me, I will be happy to try to answer them and may we have some further informal talk, not for direct quotation?
KHRUSHCHEV: Yes, Mrs. Roosevelt, you are welcome.
ROOSEVELT: At home people would say, "How does the Soviet Union expect us to disarm without inspection when she forced us to rearm after World War II? We reduced our army from 12,000,000 to 1,000,000 men." That would be one of the first questions asked, sir.
KHRUSHCHEV: I believe, Mrs. Roosevelt, we have different points of view on this armament complaint. We do not agree with your conception. We consider that demobilization took place in the U.S. and in the USSR.
You mention that you had 12 million army men but in our country men and women were all mobilized. In our country, perished roughly the number of people which you mention made up the army in your country, almost the same number of people. Mrs. Roosevelt, I do not want to offend you, but if you compare the losses of your country and the losses of ours, your losses just equal roughly our losses in one big campaign, one big attack by the Germans.
As you know, Mrs. Roosevelt, what terrible ruins we got and destruction because we lost our mining, our metallurgy. We lost our cities. That is why our country was so eager to establish peace and to establish firm peace. No country wished it so eagerly as our country.
When you consider demobilization, just some circles in your country wanted it. Others thought and believed that the Soviet country would perish as a socialist state, so they just hoped that it will perish, that it will die.
ROOSEVELT: I can't quite understand that. You mean, Mr. Khrushchev, that you think we thought, or rather that some circles believed, that all socialist countries would die?
KHRUSHCHEV: That is exactly. But these hopes failed and you see now that our socialist state was established out of the ruins, has established its economy and has become even more powerful.
ROOSEVELT: I understand, Mr. Khrushchev, but the Soviets kept a much greater proportion of men under arms than we did at that time.
(Dr. David Gurewitsch, who made the trip to Russia with me, was making the recording of the conversation and, at the same time, listening to make sure the translations were correct, since he knew Russian and was allowed to take photographs. So he broke in here to say, "Not just the proportion but the absolute figures were far greater—6,000,000 men under arms in the Soviet.")
KHRUSHCHEV: Dr. Gurewitsch, you may perfectly know the number of your army men, but don't feel so sure of the number of our army men. You don't know it. (Turning to Mrs. Roosevelt) I do not reject that our army was bigger than yours. We approached this question in a quiet way, in a calm way. Then it can be looked at reasonably and easily understood.
Take a map and look at the geographical location or situation of our country. It is a colossal territory. Mrs. Roosevelt, if you take Germany or France, just small countries which keep their army either to defend either their East or their West, that is easy. They may have a small army, but if we keep our army in the East, it is difficult to reach the West, you see, to use this Western army in the East, because our territory is so vast. Or the army which is in the North cannot be used in the South.
So, to be sure of our security in our state, we have to keep a big army, which is not so easy for us. When people speak about borders, they speak about 3,000 kilometers, which is the distance between the continents. But when we move our army from East to West, it means 3,000 kilometers.
ROOSEVELT: I understand all this, of course, but you have nothing to fear from the North. I understand that at Yalta Germany's defeat was accepted and you did not want Germany built up as a military power and you wanted a group of neutral countries between you and Germany. I understood at that time that these countries were to be free countries but to be closely tied to the Soviet Union, since the USSR was actually thinking of its protection.
Today, certainly, Great Britain, France and Germany are not a military menace. I don't say they might not become so, but they are not today. They are purely on a defensive basis, so I think it is possible to discuss very calmly how a country like the Soviet Union can be secure, which I understand perfectly the need of and the desire for, and still it should be possible not to have in the Soviet Union an army that can be an offensive army, because that frightens the rest of the world.
KHRUSHCHEV: What can I tell you in answer, Mrs. Roosevelt? When we increase our arms, it means that we are afraid of each other. Russian troops, before the Revolution, never approached Great Britain and never entered America. Even in old times they never came to the United States of America, but the troops of the U.S.A. approached our Far East, Japanese troops were in our Far East in Vladivostock, French troops in our city of Odessa, and that is why we must have an army. Your troops approach our territory, not we yours.
We never went to Mexico or Canada, but your troops went there, so that is why we have to have an army in case of danger. Before the time when troops will be drawn out of Europe and military bases will be liquidated, of course, the disarmament will not succeed.
ROOSEVELT: The actual type of armament today that is important has changed. It is not what it used to be in the old days. We are reducing our army, but what today matters is atomic weapons, and that is why I imagine the emphasis will have to be on how we can come to an agreement.
4 October 1957
CINCINNATI—In an effort to find out if Nikita S. Khrushchev, chief of the Communist party in the Soviet Union, thinks the Communist world can ever live in peace with its democratic neighbors, I posed questions on this point to him in our recent recorded interview at Yalta.
Continuing from yesterday, here is that part of the interview:
Mr. Khrushchev, I would like to go on and ask my next question.
We were not suspicious of the U.S.S.R. at first. We had fought the war together. I know my husband, and I think President Truman, had a real hope that we would be able to come to understandings.
Now, it was felt in the U.S. that some of the agreements made at Yalta were not strictly kept by the U.S.S.R., and suspicion began to grow. I regret to say that I think this suspicion was partly because there had been so little intercourse between the two countries.
I am afraid that today we have really got to do something on both sides before we begin to regain confidence, so we would like—even though you think our proposal for some kind of inspection is impractical, since either side may hide what they are producing—we still would like to feel that an effort to come to some kind of agreement is being made, even though neither of us thought our agreement was completely adequate.
Our people would like to feel there was more willingness on the part of the Soviets to consider a proposal that is not their own but is a proposal from the West.
KHRUSHCHEV: About the Yalta agreement, we have different points of view as to who broke that agreement. We cannot agree on the policy of the U.S.A. that they want to liberate the European and Eastern countries from socialism. They not only announced it, but they also gave money for it. They have established radio stations and have arranged propaganda.
They blame us that we are responsible that Czechoslovakia established a socialist regime in its country. But it is well known that when the revolution happened in Czechoslovakia, not a single Russian soldier was in their territory.
You know, Mrs. Roosevelt, what happened in Greece—the will of the people was destroyed by English tanks. Even Mr. Churchill himself went through the country in a tank, and so the will of the people was destroyed. After the English troops left, American troops moved in.
ROOSEVELT: Would you mind my saying that we believed it was not the will of the people? We believed that the majority of the people wanted their King back and did not want the socialists. You see, that is the difference between us.
So I would like to go on to my third question, which is: Does the government of the Soviet Union still believe that a Communist world must be brought about? Do they believe two systems can exist in peace because that is the crux of the whole matter?
You say we have tried to keep these nations from becoming socialist nations, but it is because we think that the Soviet Union wishes to spread throughout the world, not only through the use of soldiers but through other agents, that our suspicion has grown.
KHRUSHCHEV: Am I also an agent?
ROOSEVELT: You may have been, for all I know. But what would be believed at home would be that you had arranged for the agents.
KHRUSHCHEV: By whom arranged?
ROOSEVELT: I think it is believed that there is a constant effort—let us say suggestion—from people that this is the way the world is going to be. Now, we don't believe that this is the way the world has to be. We can believe in our way and you in your way.
KHRUSHCHEV: That is why we brought our agents—the agents of different philosophies—into the United Nations.
ROOSEVELT: Can they live in the same world without trying to undermine each other and, therefore, threatening everybody, or are we going to continue this constant threat of war because both of us think the other is trying to promote only their philosophy for the whole world?
KHRUSHCHEV: Two questions, Mrs. Roosevelt, two questions. The first one about two philosophies which may live in peace. No doubt about it, Mrs. Roosevelt, we must live in peace, we must live, we must. (Dr. David Gurewitsch breaking in: Not only we must live in peace, but we want to live in peace and we strive to live in peace in the U.S.)
ROOSEVELT: I agree.
KHRUSHCHEV: We also want to have, you see, something common in our economic activity, in our cultural life.
ROOSEVELT: Must your philosophy alone spread in the whole world because that seems to be the motto, at the top of your newspaper, Pravda, for instance?
KHRUSHCHEV: Yes. We have a motto: "Proletarians of all the world unite." That was not my idea. We differ about our foreign systems. I have never hidden myself from such questions.
This is my statement which, I am sure, I told your Columbia Broadcasting System: Communism will win in the whole world. This is scientifically based on the writings of Karl Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Your people in the U.S. are cultured people, so you know that all kinds of changes take place in economics and how the relations between nations change—feudalism, capitalism, then socialism. And the highest state will be communism. It is well known this is the meaning of history.
When a state changes its order, this is the business of the people themselves. We are against any military attempt to introduce communism or socialism into any country, as well as we are against your interference to reestablish capitalism in our country through military intervention. That is why we stand firmly for coexistence and collaboration.
ROOSEVELT: I would agree that changes come about in the world. I would agree that no military action should bring about these changes. I would also say that it is essential that there be no interference by our country in countries that are Communist, except through peaceful interchange and observation.
But this should hold good, too, for socialist countries. If there is a drive to put over Communist ideas, it makes it very difficult to live in a peaceful atmosphere.
KHRUSHCHEV: If we speak about interference, Mrs. Roosevelt, you know what your State Department does in this sphere. Let Mr. Dulles inform what Mr. Henderson had in view when he visited Turkey and the rest of the countries of the Far East. Mr. Henderson had a rather dirty mission.
ROOSEVELT: I think the whole Near Eastern situation has been a very bad situation, but we feel that the Soviet Union started it when they first let Czechoslovakian arms go to Cairo. We know today that it was Soviet or satellite arms that were used by the Egyptians.
You must know that for a long time the Egyptians had been telling Israel they were going to drive them into the sea. Israel was created as a state by the United Nations. It is a state which could help, because it has advanced technicians, to improve the living conditions of the whole Near Eastern area if once all those nations would sit down together for peaceful discussion.
But now you are building up Syrian arms to preserve what you call Syria's neutrality.
The other day I read in the newspaper here that 117 million dollars had been given by us to Israel and that we had told Israel to move into the demilitarized zone between Syria and Israel. Now, we may have given the money, but we never told them to move into the demilitarized zone. Of that, I am sure.
I believe this situation could have been vastly improved long ago by both the Soviets and ourselves. Because of the flow of Soviet arms to Egypt and Syria, we now feel that when the other Arab states ask for arms, we must help them.
My feeling is that if neither of us gave any arms but helped to improve the living conditions of the people, we would be doing something useful. Today there is nothing but a race to see which one of us can build up this balance of military power.
CINCINNATI—I questioned Nikita S. Khrushchev, chief of the Communist party in the Soviet Union, in my interview with him at Yalta on the Soviet position in the Near East and he accused the United States of first selling arms to countries in that area.
5 October 1957
Here is a continuation of the interview from my two previous columns:
ROOSEVELT: Cannot we come to a reconsideration of our whole attitude in the Middle East?
KHRUSHCHEV: Mrs. Roosevelt, you don't know about the proposals that were made by the Soviet Union, that no country should sell arms to any country in the Near East. The U.S. refused.
(Dr. David Gurewitsch, breaking in: We only refused after arms had already been sent to Egypt and Syria by the Soviet Union, so the balance had already been destroyed.)
KHRUSHCHEV: Are you the head of military supply, Dr. Gurewitsch? I don't think you know the exact situation.
ROOSEVELT: I don't think any of us knows the exact situation, but it might, however, be brought up in the disarmament conference or in the United Nations.
RUSHCHEV: I ask you: Who first started selling arms to the countries—we or you? How about Pakistan?
ROOSEVELT: I think you did. Pakistan is not the Near East. It is further away.
(Dr. Gurewitsch, breaking in: The question was: Who first sold arms?)
ROOSEVELT: I would say that we believed the Soviet Union first began to send arms to other countries. I think the only thing to do about the situation today is to bring it up in the U.N. and try to come to some agreements.
KHRUSHCHEV: You haven't answered my question. You do not like Communists, and I have nothing against this because I may not love the people who stand on other platforms. But people might be honest. That is why my question: Who were the first to sell arms to other countries and not only sell but supply free of charge? Who was the first?
I respect you greatly and I appreciate the activities of your great husband, Franklin Roosevelt, but the whole world knows that the U.S.A. started first the supply of arms, so I hoped to have an honest talk, otherwise we cannot be sure of the interpretation of this talk.
ROOSEVELT: Are we going back to the Marshall Plan?
KHRUSHCHEV: It is no matter whether it is the Marshall Plan or any other plan. I know the U.S.A. supplied all our enemies with arms.
ROOSEVELT: The emphasis of the Marshall Plan was on economic development within the countries.
KHRUSHCHEV: Arms are also economic aid?
ROOSEVELT: I agree that many countries in the West received arms, and I see how the Soviet Union could feel that those were provided against them, but we in the U.S. would say that we had reached a point where we had begun to feel that the Soviet Union had military intentions against the West.
KHRUSHCHEV: What were the arms supplied for? We never had them for tea parties.
ROOSEVELT: I think our first suspicion rose at the time of the Berlin airlift when the Soviets seemed to be trying to push us out. I will grant that we may have made mistakes, but I also think that you made mistakes. Having been here, I realize that your people do not want war.
KHRUSHCHEV: If you say the people do not want war, who wants war—their representatives?
ROOSEVELT: The government, perhaps. For they do things on both sides which they believe are for the defense of the people. This happens in our country and it probably happens in yours.
KHRUSHCHEV: It takes place in your country.
ROOSEVELT: If so, it also takes place in yours.
KHRUSHCHEV: Definitely not in my country.
ROOSEVELT: Oh, it does. Governments are much the same.
KHRUSHCHEV: There are signs. There is logic; there is experience, so we may check up. Whose troops approach the borderline? Do the Soviet troops approach the U.S. border? It is the American troops who approach the border of the Soviet Union. Yes, they are there.
ROOSEVELT: We are not trying to enter the Soviet Union.
KHRUSHCHEV: They do try.
ROOSEVELT: We are not trying. But it can be only a defensive attitude if we are to have any kind of amicable coexistence. We cannot go on with arming both sides. Could we work for a greater interchange of people on every level in order to get greater understanding?
KHRUSHCHEV: I am surprised, Mrs. Roosevelt. Maybe you are not informed quite well what the situation is. We never refuse. We always allow people to come here, but you never give a visa to our citizens.
ROOSEVELT: We don't always allow Communists to come to the U.S. Neither do you always allow people to leave your country, even if we manage to get visas for them.
KHRUSHCHEV: Tell us anyone we haven't allowed to come here.
ROOSEVELT: I am not saying you don't allow people to come to the USSR, but you take a very long time to grant their visas.
On your side, you did not want to accept our fingerprinting. We did not feel there was any harm in fingerprinting. Having been here, I understand your feeling and so I am glad that provision can now be waived. The thing that disturbs us is the difficulty the people have who want to leave the Soviet Union, even for visits.
KHRUSHCHEV: We allow everybody to come here, no matter how he blames the Soviet Union. Still, we allow him to come here and see what is going on here. We are not afraid.
ROOSEVELT: I would sum up the feeling of the people in the U.S. by saying that it was what the Soviets did in Berlin that started our suspicions. North Korea, North Vietnam, Egypt, and Syria added to them. Misunderstandings have grown and there is fear on both sides. We will have to do things to create confidence. One thing that can be done is a broader exchange of people.
KHRUSHCHEV: I fully agree, Mrs. Roosevelt.
ROOSEVELT: Have you any suggestions to make, or any questions to ask me?
KHRUSHCHEV: We have stated many times our purposes. But the U.S.A. is used to speaking, to dictating, so they only speak about conditions which they will accept. I want to explain what are the words and what are the deeds. Where are the troops and whose troops are they?
ROOSEVELT: If we could stop thinking for a moment about atomic weapons, we would still have in the USSR a very great standing army which could quickly move across Europe, and this makes Europeans fearful if they have no defense.
KHRUSHCHEV: There was a time when in Germany, England and France there was no American army and our army was much bigger, but we did nothing. We are not so stupid to make tricks. We have never made any attempts against these countries.
ROOSEVELT: When you read a paper in the Soviet Union, you find very little news about the outside world. Every mention of the U.S. is about something bad which has happened there. For instance, the only news I have seen is on what occurred in Little Rock, Ark., on integration of schools, but this problem affects about seven out of 48 states.
KHRUSHCHEV: But the seven states are the U.S. of America.
ROOSEVELT: Only a small part.
KHRUSHCHEV: We also have small republics. They make up the whole state of the USSR and they are equal in rights.
ROOSEVELT: We do not have central control, so our states have certain rights.
KHRUSHCHEV: In our country, every republic has its own rights. They are independent. But let us come back to the question of what you say about the USSR. Do you say anything good in your newspapers?
ROOSEVELT: I think there has been improvement, and there is not quite the vilification that I find in your newspapers here. But I would like to add that I don't find antagonism towards us among the people. They have been kind and welcoming.
ROOSEVELT: Are you anxious, sir, for more mutual economic interchange?
KHRUSHCHEV: Yes, we are. Not because we need it but because economic intercourse is the best way to improve relations. You don't want to have trade with our country because you don't want to give us military secrets. But it doesn't matter, because we have atomic weapons. We are not going to buy arms from you, but we shall be pleased to trade with you.
(Here Dr. Gurewitsch broke in and said: What else is there to do to improve our relations?)
ROOSEVELT: That is what I am most anxious to find out.
KHRUSHCHEV: Tell the truth to the people of the U.S.A. Tell the truth about the Soviet government and about our country. You hate Communists.
I don't hate Communists as people. I happen to believe that through a free democracy you actually develop a more independent and stronger people and give them the opportunity to achieve more. That is a personal belief and I can quite understand the socialist belief, but that does not mean I want to see their belief spread by methods of propaganda that are not always open and above board—by hidden methods.
I am quite willing that both of us should do our best to prove that our way is the best for the future. But I feel we will have to find a method for going forward toward more amicable relations or we will end in a war that none of us want.
(Dr. GUREWITSCH, breaking in: Sir, you just said: "We love peace but we are convinced that communism will spread over the world." How is that to be done peacefully? You either acknowledge that an opposite idea has a chance or you simply wipe out the opportunity for coexistence. You must accept that two things can go on even though they may not lead to a complete meeting of minds at any point.)
KHRUSHCHEV: Many people believe that Communism is better than the system that exists at present.
(Dr. GUREWITSCH again: Isn't there a contradiction in what you are saying? We talked before about coexistence and in the same breath you say that you are convinced that communism will spread throughout the world. Aren't you doing everything possible to speed up that process?)
KHRUSHCHEV: Oh, no, there is no contradiction. What I said about the spread of communism is like telling about the law of nature. I am firmly convinced this is the natural course of history and has nothing to do with our living peacefully together and stopping the threat of destroying each other.
ROOSEVELT: We both know then that the bombs are dangerous and can annihilate the world.
KHRUSHCHEV: We are in favor of full disarmament. We don't need any arms if you accept our existence and stop interfering wherever you can.
ROOSEVELT: But we, too, are for disarmament, but there has to be some international inspection.
KHRUSHCHEV: We are for international inspection, but there first has to be confidence and then inspection. Mr. Dulles wants inspection without confidence.
ROOSEVELT: I think the confidence and the inspection have to come together. We have to start and gradually increase our plans.
KHRUSHCHEV: Quite right. Only gradually it can be done.
ROOSEVELT: Would you agree to limited inspection if we could make a beginning?
KHRUSHCHEV: But I quite agree. That is what we proposed. We propose inspection in ports, on highways, on roads, at airports, and it is to be an inter-nation inspection. But in answer to our proposal, Mr. Dulles makes a statement which sounds as though he was making propaganda for the atom bomb, trying to make it palatable. He talks of a clean bomb as if there were such a thing as a clean bomb. War is dirty thing.
But you refused our suggestion. You insist on this flying business and looking at our factories. You know those rockets made the situation more frightful. Now we can destroy countries in a few minutes. How many bombs does it take to destroy West Germany? How many for France? How many for England? Just a few. We have now H-bombs and rockets. We do not even have to send any bombers.
ROOSEVELT: And soon small countries will have atomic bombs.
KHRUSHCHEV: Why not? Research goes on. They learn about it. Let's get together so there shall be no war. We are ready to sign such an agreement now.
ROOSEVELT: Your people certainly want peace, and I can assure you that our people want peace, too.
KHRUSHCHEV: Do you think we, the government, want war?
ROOSEVELT: Not the people, but governments, make war. And then they persuade the people that it is in a good cause, the cause of their own defense. Those arguments can be made by both your government and by ours.
KHRUSHCHEV: That's right. Can we say we had a friendly conversation?
ROOSEVELT: You can say we had a friendly conversation, but we differ.
KHRUSHCHEV: Now, we didn't shoot at each other.
This was really the end of what I can give you of actual quotations. There was, however, a very interesting discussion on a subject that is of great general interest because it touches on the Near East situation. So I will devote my next column to this part of our talk, though I will not be quoting Mr. Khrushchev's exact words.
(NOTE TO EDITOR: Because Mrs. Roosevelt is being pressed continually to disclose information obtained in her interview with Nikita S. Khrushchev and she does not want to do that until it has appeared in her column, the remainder of her interview is covered in this column. Therefore, it runs considerably longer than usual.—UFS.)
8 October 1957
DETROIT—One of the questions I submitted to Mr. Khrushchev, after the recording of the interview was ended, was about his general attitude on the Near Eastern situation and the treatment of the Jews in the Soviet Union, as well as some of his statements on the State of Israel.
Mr. Khrushchev seemed very anxious to have us understand that a Communist could not be anti-Semitic. Communism was opposed to all discrimination for reasons of race or religion, and if a member of the Communist party were known to be anti-Semitic no one would shake hands with him. Inasmuch as Karl Marx was a Jew, continued Mr. Khrushchev, how could we believe that any Communist would be anti-Semitic? And his own son, who was killed in the war, he told us, had been married to a Jewess. Jews in the Soviet Union, he went on, were given all opportunities for education and for securing positions. He then said that the Soviets had voted for the creation of the state of Israel, but at present he felt Israel must change its policies and be less aggressive.
I suggested that the Soviet Union had given the arms to Syria which had been one of the reasons for the sense of insecurity in Israel and therefore for their show of aggression. He flared up and said there were 80 million Arabs and about one million Israelis, so if Israel continued her present policy she will be destroyed. Who attacked Egypt? he asked. Wasn't it Great Britain, France and Israel?
I at once answered that he would have to separate the attitude of Israel from that of Britain and France. Israel had been told for a year by the Egyptians that when they were ready and fully armed by the Soviets, the Egyptians would drive the Israelis into the sea. Thus the action of the Israelis was in the nature of self-defense, because they could not wait until the build-up against them was completed. Proof of the build-up had been found in the Sinai desert when the Israelis had captured over $50 million worth of military material provided by the Soviets or their satellites.
Mr. Khrushchev dodged this. When I added that I thought he was wrong in saying Israel was aggressive, because they needed peace more than any other country in order to strengthen their country, he turned upon me and said: "The U.S. is backing Israel with arms." Here Dr. Gurewitsch broke in to say: "But do you remember that the U.S. voted with you on the Suez issue?"
Mr. Khrushchev answered that he remembered very well, but that it was evident the U.S. wanted to remain on good terms with both sides. They did not want to lose the Arabs because of the oil, and the Arabs understood this very well. Then he turned to me to say how stupid he thought the assertion was that anti-Semitism existed in the Soviet Union. Didn't I know there were many Jews of high rank in the Soviet Army, including a Jewish general, and that there was a Jew buried inside the Kremlin wall?
I thought I would adopt his tactics of attack at this point, and said: "In any case, sir, it is very difficult for any Jew to leave the Soviet Union if he happens to want to go and settle in Israel or even to visit it."
"I know," replied Mr. Khrushchev without hesitation; "but the time will come when everyone who wants to go will be able to do so."
I then said that it seemed to me the Soviet Union could help if they were willing to work with the U.S. to achieve an understanding between Israel and the Arab countries. Israel was willing to sit down with Arab representatives and try to work out their difficulties, but the Arabs always refused.
Mr. Khrushchev answered that he knew very well the Arabs had made mistakes; but we must remember that the Soviet Union was for a class, not for a state. Israel consisted of all sorts of classes; the Soviets were for the Socialists in Israel, but not for the State! (I presume when Mr. Khruschev spoke of "Socialists" here, he meant Communists.)
There is no question in my mind but that the Soviets are trying to integrate the Jews completely. Elsewhere, the Soviets are proud of the fact that they have allowed their various Republics to retain their own culture, their own arts and languages. But the Jews in the Soviet Union are not in a separate Republic; they are scattered all over the different cities. I think the Soviets felt they could make good use of the brains of these people, but they wanted them as Communists, not as people with a separate culture and with perhaps a different political belief. That is why, for example, there is no longer a Jewish theatre in the Soviet Union. They permit attendance in the synagogue, just as they permit attendance in the Orthodox church and in churches belonging to the Baptists. Each of these religions can train a certain number of rabbis and ministers. But there is no Jewish school for children, since they want the Jews to attend the regular Soviet schools.
It is quite true that the Jews occupy high places in the ministries, among the doctors, teachers, scientists, etc. But Jewish culture is certainly not encouraged, and I am sure there are a number of Jews who would be glad if they could even be given permission to visit Israel for a short time. How soon Mr. Khrushchev's promise that "the time will come" will be carried out, we will have to wait to find out.