Shoe-banging incident

Last updated

Khrushchev at a meeting of the UN General Assembly on 22 September, three weeks before the incident Nikita Khrushchev 1960.jpg
Khrushchev at a meeting of the UN General Assembly on 22 September, three weeks before the incident

The shoe-banging incident occurred when Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, pounded his shoe on his delegate-desk in protest at a speech by Philippine delegate Lorenzo Sumulong during the 902nd Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York City on 12 October 1960. [1] [2] [3]


In 2003, American scholar William Taubman reported that he had interviewed some eyewitnesses who said that Khrushchev had brandished his shoe but not banged it. He also reported that no photographic or video records of the shoe-banging had been found. [4] However, in his biography of Khrushchev, he wrote that he accepted that the shoe-banging had occurred. [5] There is at least one fake photograph, where a shoe was added into an existing photograph. [6]

Description of incident

The often used fake image
of Khrushchev waving a shoe (above), and the original photo taken at the United Nations General Assembly, 10 October 1960, AP archives (below) Khruschev shoe fake.jpg
The often used fake image of Khrushchev waving a shoe (above), and the original photo taken at the United Nations General Assembly, 10 October 1960, AP archives (below)

On 12 October 1960, head of the Filipino delegation Lorenzo Sumulong referred to "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". [12] Upon hearing this, Khrushchev quickly came to the rostrum, being recognized on a point of order. There he demonstratively, in a theatrical manner, brushed Sumulong aside, with an upward motion of his right arm—without physically touching him—and began a lengthy denunciation of Sumulong, branding him (among other things) as "a jerk, a stooge, and a lackey", and a "toady of American imperialism" [13] and demanded Assembly President Frederick Boland (Ireland) call Sumulong to order. Boland did caution Sumulong to "avoid wandering out into an argument which is certain to provoke further interventions", but permitted him to continue speaking and sent Khrushchev back to his seat.

According to some sources, Khrushchev pounded his fists on his desk in protest as Sumulong continued to speak, and at one point picked up his shoe and banged the desk with it. [14] Some other sources report a different order of events: Khrushchev first banged the shoe then went to the rostrum to protest. [15] Sumulong's speech was again interrupted. Another point of order was raised by the highly agitated Romanian Foreign Vice-minister Eduard Mezincescu, a member of the Eastern Bloc. Mezincescu gave his own angry denunciation of Sumulong and then turned his anger on Boland, managing to provoke, insult and ignore the Assembly President to such an extent that his microphone was eventually shut off, prompting a chorus of shouts and jeers from the Eastern Bloc delegations. The chaotic scene finally ended when Boland, crimson-faced with frustration, abruptly declared the meeting adjourned and slammed his gavel down so hard he broke it, sending the head flying. On observing the shoe-banging, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan is said to have quipped "May we have a translation of that please?" [16]

This incident was reported at the time by a number of newspapers, including The New York Times , [17] The Washington Post , [18] The Guardian , [19] The Times , [20] and Le Monde . [21] The New York Times had a photo that pictured Khrushchev and Andrei Gromyko, with a shoe on Khrushchev's desk. [22]

Subsequent commentary

Khrushchev was reported to be delighted with his performance, but other members of Communist delegations to the UN were embarrassed or displeased. [23] Khrushchev was removed as leader in 1964, and he was criticized for the incident: "a shameful episode that he still presents as an act of valor". [24]

In 1961, revolutionary philosopher Frantz Fanon commented: "And when Mr. Khrushchev brandishes his shoe at the United Nations and hammers the table with it, no colonized individual, no representative of the underdeveloped countries laughs. For what Mr. Khrushchev is showing the colonized countries who are watching is that he, the missile-wielding muzhik, is treating these wretched capitalists the way they deserve." [25]

Khrushchev mentioned the shoe-banging in his memoirs, writing that he was speaking strongly against the Franco regime in Spain. A representative of Spain took the floor to reply and, after his speech, the delegates from Socialist countries made a lot of noise in protest. Khrushchev wrote: "Remembering reports I have read about the sessions of the State Duma in Russia, I decided to add a little more heat. I took off my shoe and pounded it on desk so that our protest would be louder." [26] The footnote to this text says that Khrushchev's recollections are mistaken. The Times , on 3 October 1960, had reported that Khrushchev launched an "angry tirade" against Franco on 1 October, and the article made no mention of shoe-banging. [27]

Khrushchev's granddaughter Nina L. Khrushcheva writes that, after years of embarrassed silence, her family explained their recollection of the event. According to Nina, Khrushchev was wearing new and tight shoes, so he took them off while sitting. He started pounding the table with his fist during his angry response, and his watch fell off. When he was picking it up, his discarded shoes caught his eye and he took the opportunity to pick one up and pound the desk with it. She also mentions that many versions of the incident have been in circulation, with various dates and occasions. [28]

Nina's account is very similar to that of Khrushchev's long-time interpreter Viktor Sukhodrev, who sat with him during the event and reported that his boss pounded on his delegate-desk so hard that his watch stopped, which only infuriated him further and prompted the switch to the shoe. [4]

Sergei Khrushchev (Nikita's son) stated that he could not find any photo or video evidence of the incident. Both NBC and CBC ran a search in their archives but were unable to find a tape of the event. [4]

In Sergei's opinion, it would be very unlikely that Nikita Khrushchev intentionally removed his shoe. There was little space under the desk, and the Soviet leader, being somewhat overweight, could not reach his feet. [29] This specific issue was addressed in 2002 by a former UN staffer, who said that Khrushchev could not have spontaneously removed his shoe at his desk but had previously lost it after a journalist stepped on it. The UN staffer then retrieved the shoe, wrapped it in a napkin, and passed it back to Khrushchev, who was unable to put it back on and had to leave it on the floor next to his desk; the same staffer also confirmed that she saw him later bang the shoe on the desk, thus functionally confirming the reports by Nina Khrushcheva and Viktor Sukhodrev. [4] [29]

According to German journalist Walter Henkels, a shoe producer in Pirmasens said he had seen a picture of the shoe in a newspaper and recognized it as being from his production. The Federal Ministry of Economics explained that West Germany had sent 30,000 pairs of shoes to the Soviet Union. Among them were 2,000 pairs of good low shoes, and one of them might have found its way to Khrushchev. [30]

See also

Related Research Articles

Nikita Khrushchev 1953–1964 First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964 and as chairman of the country's Council of Ministers from 1958 to 1964. During his rule, Khrushchev stunned the communist world with his denunciation of Stalin's crimes and began de-Stalinization. He sponsored the early Soviet space program, and enactment of relatively liberal reforms in domestic policy. After some false starts, and a narrowly avoided nuclear war over Cuba, he conducted successful negotiations with the United States to reduce Cold War tensions. His proclivity toward recklessness led the Kremlin leadership to strip him of power, replacing him with Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary and Alexei Kosygin as Premier.

1960 U-2 incident Cold War aviation incident

On 1 May 1960, a United States U-2 spy plane was shot down by the Soviet Air Defence Forces while performing photographic aerial reconnaissance deep inside Soviet territory. The single-seat aircraft, flown by pilot Francis Gary Powers, was hit by an S-75 Dvina surface-to-air missile and crashed near Sverdlovsk. Powers parachuted safely and was captured.

Anastas Mikoyan Russian revolutionary and Soviet statesman

Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan was an Armenian Communist revolutionary, Old Bolshevik and Soviet statesman during the mandates of Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev. He was the only Soviet politician who managed to remain at the highest levels of power within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as that power oscillated between the Central Committee and the Politburo, from the latter days of Lenin's rule, throughout the eras of Stalin and Khrushchev, until his peaceful retirement after the first months of Brezhnev's rule.

Sergei Khrushchev Soviet-American scientist

Sergei Nikitich Khrushchev was a Russian engineer and the second son of the Cold War-era Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev with his wife Nina Petrovna Khrushcheva. He moved to the United States in 1991 and was a naturalized American citizen.

We will bury you Quote by Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev

"We will bury you!" is a phrase that was used by Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow on November 18, 1956. The phrase was originally translated into English by Khrushchev's personal interpreter Viktor Sukhodrev.

Lorenzo Sumulong Sumulong was a Filipino politician who served in the Philippine Senate for four decades, and as a delegate of his country to the United Nations. He was noted for having engaged in a debate with Nikita Khrushchev at the United Nations General Assembly that allegedly provoked the Soviet Union Premier to bang his shoe on a desk.

Frederick Boland

Frederick Henry Boland was an Irish diplomat who served as the first Irish Ambassador to both the United Kingdom and the United Nations. Boland was married to the painter Frances Kelly and had five children including their daughter, Eavan Boland, who was a leading Irish poet.

1954 transfer of Crimea Transfer of the Crimean Peninsula from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR

The transfer of the Crimean Oblast in 1954 was an administrative action of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, which transferred the government of the Crimean Peninsula from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian SSR.

Expedito Leviste (1918–1999) was a Congressman from the province of Batangas and a member of the Philippine delegation to the United Nations.

William Taubman American political scientist

William Chase Taubman is an American political scientist. His biography of Nikita Khrushchev won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 2004 and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography in 2003.

Khrushchev is one of numerous transliterations of the Russian male surname Хрущёв. Its feminine counterpart is Khrushcheva (Хрущёва). Notable people with the surname include:

Kuzmas mother Character in a Russian idiom describing punishment

Kuzma's mother or Kuzka's mother is a part of the Russian idiomatic expression "to show Kuzka's mother to someone", an expression of an unspecified threat or punishment, such as "to teach someone a lesson" or "to punish someone in a brutal way". It entered the history of the foreign relations of the Soviet Union as part of the image of Nikita Khrushchev, along with the shoe-banging incident and the phrase "We will bury you".

October 1960 Month of 1960

The following events occurred in October 1960:

Mikhail Vasilyevich Zimyanin, was a Soviet politician and diplomat who served as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Pravda, the official publication of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, from 1965 to 1976. Afterwards, he was appointed to the party's secretariat. He retired on 28 January 1987 for "health reasons".

Leonid Khrushchev Soviet pilot and son of Nikita Khrushchev

Leonid Nikitovich Khrushchev was the son of Nikita Khrushchev, former leader of the Soviet Union, and served as a fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Forces during the Second World War. He was shot down and killed in 1943, but the exact circumstances of his death remain unknown.

<i>Khrushchev: The Man and His Era</i> Book by William Taubman

Khrushchev: The Man and His Era is a 2003 biography of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Written by William Taubman, the book is the first in-depth and comprehensive American biography of Khrushchev. Taubman was the recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, as well as the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award. The author spent almost 20 years researching the life of Khrushchev in preparation to write the book. Extensive research was made possible through access to archives in Russia and Ukraine, which were opened to the public following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In addition to printed materials and documentation, he spent time engaging Khrushchev's children and extended relatives, resulting in over 70 personal interviews. Taubman presents a historical narrative and study of the life of Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader who succeeded Joseph Stalin. The book concludes with Khrushchev's death on September 11, 1971.

Sergei Safronov (fighter pilot) Soviet aviator

Sergei Ivanovich Safronov was a senior lieutenant in the Soviet Air Defense Forces. Safronov, a fighter pilot, was shot down by a friendly surface-to-air missile while attempting to intercept Gary Powers' U-2, conducting a reconnaissance mission.

Nina Petrovna Khrushcheva

Nina Petrovna Khrushcheva was the second wife of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

State visit by Nikita Khrushchev to the United States The visit of Nikita Khrushchev to the United States in 1959

The state visit of Nikita Khrushchev to the United States was a 13-day visit from 15–27 September 1959. It marked the first state visit of a Soviet leader to the US. Nikita Khrushchev, then General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Chairman of the Council of Ministers, was also the first ethnic Ukrainian leader of the Soviet Union to set foot in the Western Hemisphere. Being the first visit by a leader of his kind, the coverage of it resulted in an extended media circus.

<i>The Plot to Kill Stalin</i> 1st episode of the third season of Playhouse 90

The Plot to Kill Stalin was an American television play broadcast on September 25, 1958, on the CBS television network. It was the first episode of the third season of the anthology television series Playhouse 90. Delbert Mann was the director, and the cast included Melvyn Douglas as Joseph Stalin, Eli Wallach as Stalin's personal secretary, and Oskar Homolka as Nikita Khrushchev. It was nominated for two Sylvania Television Awards: as the outstanding telecast of 1958 and for Douglas as outstanding actor in a television program.


  1. Peter Carlson (2010). K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America's Most Unlikely Tourist. Read How You Want. pp. 408–412.
  2. Michele Ingrassia (6 December 1988). "Krushchev brought chaos to UN in 1960". The Milwaukee Journal. Newsday. p. 87.
  3. Taubman, William (2003), Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, W.W. Norton & Co., pp. 475–476, 657, ISBN   978-0-393-32484-6
  4. 1 2 3 4 William Taubman (26 July 2003). "Did he bang it?: Nikita Khrushchev and the shoe". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  5. Taubman, William (2003), Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, W.W. Norton & Co., p. 657, ISBN   978-0-393-32484-6
  6. Fred Bals (15 July 2009). "K Blows Top!". Dreamtime.
  7. Frances Romero (23 September 2008). "Khrushchev Loses His Cool". Time. Archived from the original on 27 September 2008. Using the fake photo.
  8. "Khrushchev Addressing United Nations General Assembly". Associated Press. The original photo from the AP.
  9. Faisal J. Abbas (16 December 2008). "Shoe Fetishism...The Arab Way!". The Huffington Post. Using the fake image.
  10. Хрущев кричал в ООН про кузькину мать, чтобы поглумиться над переводчиками [Khrushchev was shouting at the UN about the gruel to mock translators] (in Russian). КОМСОМОЛЬСКАЯ ПРАВДА (Komsomolskaya Pravda). 29 March 2004.
  11. Yulia Latynina (3 October 2008). Трагические последствия победы [The Tragic Consequences of Victory] (in Russian). The Daily Journal. Russian oppositional site using the original picture.
  12. Official Records, 15th Session of the UN General Assembly
  13. Other translations exist, see Nina Khrushcheva's article
  14. Amy Janello; Brennon Jones, eds. (1995). A Global Affair: An Inside Look at the United Nations. p. 230. ISBN   1-86064-139-3.
  15. William Taubman; Sergei Khrushchev; Abbott Gleason; David Gehrenbeck (May 2000). Nikita Khrushchev . Yale University Press. ISBN   0-300-07635-5.
  16. Jonathan Aitken, Nazarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan: From Communism to Capitalism, page 21
  17. Benjamin Welles (13 October 1960). "Khrushchev Bangs His Shoe on Desk". The New York Times . Archived from the original on 8 June 2012.
  18. "Enraged K Cries "Jerk", Gavel Breaks in Uproar: Enraged K Waves Shoe, Calls Opponent "Jerk"". The Washington Post . 13 October 1960.
  19. "UN adjourned in disorder: Mr K bangs desk with his shoe, President breaks his gavel". The Guardian . 13 October 1960.
  20. ""If I Go to the Bottom I Shall Drag You Down Too": Mr K's Parting Shot at UN". The Times . 14 October 1960. p. 10.
  21. "M. Khrouchtchev affirme que si ses propositions sont rejetées les peuples colonisés seront contraints de prendre les armes". Le Monde . 14 October 1960.
  22. Carl T. Gossett Jr. "Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev with his shoe before him, at the United Nations, 1960". New York Times Store. Archived from the original on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  23. Taubman, William (2003), Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, W.W. Norton & Co., p. 476, ISBN   978-0-393-32484-6
  24. Taubman, William (2003), Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, W.W. Norton & Co., pp. 476, 762, ISBN   978-0-393-32484-6
  25. Frantz Fanon (2004). The Wretched of the Earth. Translated by Richard Philcox. Grove Press. p. 37. ISBN   0-8021-4132-3.
  26. Sergei Khrushchev (2007). Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev. Vol. III: Statesman. Penn State Press. p. 269. ISBN   978-0-271-02935-1.
  27. "Mr K Rebuked by UN Assembly President: Angry Tirade against General Franco". The Times . 3 October 1960. p. 7.
  28. Nina Khrushcheva (2 October 2000). "The case of Khrushchev's shoe". New Statesman . Archived from the original on 23 November 2006.
  29. 1 2 А был ли ботинок? [Was there a shoe?]. Izvestia (in Russian). 9 August 2002. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  30. Walter Henkels, Adenauers gesammelte Bosheiten. Eine anekdotische Nachlese, Exon, Düsseldorf / Vienna, 1983, pp. 55/56.