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Digital Archive International History Declassified

July 17, 1964

NOTES FROM MEETING OF ROMANIAN DELEGATION WITH NIKITA KHRUSHCHEV IN MOSCOW, 17 JULY 1964 (EXCERPTS)

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Khrushchev, Kosygin, and Romanian representative Bodnăraş discuss the history of Soviet-Romanian relationships, Soviet espionage in Romania, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    "Notes from Meeting of Romanian Delegation with Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow, 17 July 1964 (excerpts)" July 17, 1964, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANIC, fond C.C. al P.C.R. – Secţia Relaţii Externe, dosar 36/1964, filele 190-211; Document 5 in Vasile Buga, O vară fierbinte în relaţiile româno-sovietice: Convorbirile de la Moscova din iulie 1964 [A Hot Summer in Romanian-Soviet Relations: Conversations in Moscow during July 1964], Bucharest, Romanian Academy, National Institute for the Study of Totalitarianism, 2012, pp. 198-212. Translated for CWIHP by Larry L. Watts. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116686
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After the delegation of the RWP CC arrived at Ogarëvo, a short walk was arranged. During the walk, comrade Khrushchev, although polite, was distant, conversing often with comrade Mikoyan and appearing not to be too occupied by the presence of guests.

At a certain moment, the hosts and guests left the park and headed towards a group of Soviet citizens bathing in the Moscow River. At the appearance of comrade Khrushchev the group of citizens applauded. Comrade Khrushchev shook the hands of some persons, after which, turning back towards his guests, said with a smile: “they are becoming bourgeoisie.”

After that the guests were invited to a shooting range.

When comrade Lesechiko fired without hitting the target, comrade Podgorny make a joke, after which comrade Mikoyan added: “Look, he criticizes the CMEA for not working very well.”

During the meal the following conversation took place:

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: I propose to drink to friendship between our peoples and parties. For those present we will have further occasion to drink, so we should drink for those missing, for our comrade and friend, comrade Gheorghiu-Dej.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: Please allow me to raise a glass for friendship between our peoples and our parties. Also, I would like to transmit friendly salutations on behalf of cde. Gh. Gheorghiu-Dej and to offer toast with all warmth to comrade Nikita Sergeievich Khrushchev.

Cde. N. Podgorny: Over the past several days, together with the RWP CC Political Bureau, we discussed important problems. It is very good that these discussions permitted us to clarify the point of view of the Romanian friends. And you have come to know our point of view better.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: I still do not know what you discussed there, we must meet first.

Cde. N. Podgorny: The discussion was very useful, and if we do not arrive at common conclusions on all problems – and some questions will undoubtedly remain open – there is no motive [for believing] that open questions cannot not be resolved. We are firmly convinced that there is every basis for strengthening of our friendship – both generally and personally – which has existed and of which we can be proud. Together with our Romanian colleagues we have had very sharp discussions, even on problems that had appeared not to exist.

I propose that we drink to the strengthening of our friendship, to the health of our colleagues.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: Because cde. Podgorny has brought up aspects of our discussions, I would also like to say a few words about them. The discussions showed that each of us better understands the necessity of a clear friendship. Clear, because only that sort of friendship is durable and capable of supporting the vicissitudes of any circumstances. We have come with the charge from our Political Bureau to clarify things regarding the strengthening of the friendship between us. Certainly, we have done this, just as our Soviet comrades have also done. We said things as we saw them. This is a great step towards clearing up ambiguities.

Anticipating what we have in mind to say tomorrow, I want to underscore that I [sic!] consider that these discussions represent for us the possibility of going home with several conclusions. Our discussion have convinced us – if such a thing was still necessary – about the necessity of strengthening our friendship. They have shown us that there are things which require thought. Regarding us, we are firmly decided to think with all seriousness about the things which we have discussed together.

A second conclusion with which we leave is that we should undertake a series of measures for such a necessary friendship – in any case necessary for our people – to know an ever more calm future. I do not want to exhaust the entire spectrum of problems which I will discuss with you tomorrow.

I would like you to believe regarding our friendship that I have, more powerfully than ever, the conviction that I drink for something that cannot be destroyed. I raise the glass for your health, comrades, with which we fought for a week, for the CPSU CC Presidium, and again, with all of my heart, for comrade Khrushchev.

Cde. A. Kosygin: I would like to remark such a fact. Our discussions were sharp enough. The characteristic trait of these sharp discussions is that both the Romanian comrades and ourselves south ways to prevent their spread like a disease, but to take all measures to liquidate them. Our discussions were penetrated by this spirit and desire. Our delegation and yours, comrade Maurer, will report to the Presidium – respectively, to the CC Political Bureau of our parties about the conclusions of our discussions, about these aspects of the discussions. It was a sharp discussion, however, it was friendly and directed towards strengthening the friendship between us. The report which we will present tomorrow will be drawn up in this spirit. We believe that you will proceed in the same way.

We would like to toast the RWP CC Political Bureau, the friendship between our parties and peoples, and to your health.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: (He said some words in the Russian language)

Cde. N. Podgorny: And cde. Maurer has learned Russian during this period, several times he even corrected the translator.

Cde. E. Bodnaras: Among those present cde. Maurer is the only one who does not know the Russian language, however, we will teach him as well.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: The Romanian language is not too complicated.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: Around 40 percent of our vocabulary is of Slav origin.

Cde. N. Podgorny: Especially in the agricultural domain.[1]

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: And the lands on which Hungary is located belonged to the Slavs before them. In the Parliament building in Budapest is a goblet (goblen) which represents the coming of Arpad into the Magyar areas. It is said that Arpad asked the Slavs to give them land and water. The Slavs thought it was a question of a handful of soil, but in the end they succeeded in putting their hands on all of the territory. I told Kadar: we should discuss the problem. The lands on which the Hungarians live are Slav lands. “Comrade” Arpad bilked the Slavs and took their lands for nothing. Let’s discuss it. Kadar told me: I agree, but where do we begin? We came from the Urals. So give us the Urals. The I told him: that would not be advantageous [for him]. Arpad was no fool, he chose a nice place.

And Romania is also a beautiful land, it is like a painting.

The Hungarians came from Siberia. The Chuvash live among us, they are of the same Finno-Ugric family. The cosmonaut Nikolaev, for example, is Chuvash. It has come up that he is a relative of Kadar.

Cde. E. Bodnaras: Dear comrades, today we participated in the work of the Sessions of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. For us it was a special honor, all the more so in that the problems discussed are important not only for you. It is a problem of political and social importance that interests all of us – old age insurance for those who work on the kolkhoz (“kolkozniks”). The main thing however is that today in the meeting hall we saw many acquaintances – old friends, who reminded us of the path we have trod together also during the times of illegality, and when we moved beyond illegality and we began to build our new social orders, the socialist order. This face-to-face meeting was very useful. It reminded us of much, especially given the sincere sentiments upon which our delegation conducted itself on the basis of instructions from the party leadership. This is essential in assuring our unity and friendship. Just as it was in the past during our common actions, so it is now as well. We will tell you the truth. In the relations between us there have appeared problems that we have discussed when we met with cde. Khrushchev, and the other comrades. We have come now to clarify these problems, without artifice. Our discussion was sincere, and sharp. However this sharp character was not an end in itself, but a means for finding the path that would allow you to better understand us, and us, likewise [to understand you].

These were the aims, the spirit in which the negotiations were carried out and in this spirit we should continue to act because we have much more to do in order to clarify, with mutual patience and understanding, all of the problems in view of strengthening friendship, as it was at the beginning and to make it even stronger.

All of this gives us faith that, conducting ourselves in this spirit, going along the same path, looking ahead without forgetting the past, we will resolve all of the problems. And the more rapidly we do so, the better it will be for today and for tomorrow. I propose a toast for the future. I propose that we drink in this spirit of responsibility, for this great cause.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: I propose a toast in honor of cde. Andropov who turned 50 years of age not long ago.

Cde. N. Podgorny: I add that this happened during the PWUP [Polish United Workers Party] Congress, where he was congratulated and where the Polish comrades gave him gifts.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: I want to reveal a party secret. The CPSU CC Presidium adopted a decision to propose comrade Mikoyan as president of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. Cde. Brezhnev was liberated from this function in order to concentrate his activity in the CC Secretariat. For the time being, cde. Mikoyan is not confirmed in the new function. Wednesday or Thursday it will be proposed in the session of the Supreme Soviet, if we don’t change our minds (laughing). In any case the plenum has decided. He has sworn that he does not want it, however I believe he lies, and I did not take into consideration what he said.

Stalin said that Mikoyan had ties with foreign intelligence services, however, with which ones he did not say. He said that Voroshilov had ties with English espionage networks, and Molotov – with American [espionage]. About Mikoyan no one knows with whom he had ties. Stalin affirmed this about Mikoyan and Molotov at a plenum, after the XIXth  Congress. If Stalin had not died, maybe Mikoyan would have been made an enemy of the people.  It is true that he made an allusion that he could have had a tie with American espionage networks, however, he did not say it. Stalin was convinced that Molotov had property in America, that he had train cars in the USA. When Molotov was on a visit there, the Americans placed a governmental train car at his disposal. Stalin, then in the Caucases, asked Vishinsky in New York, in my presence, to look into whether Molotov had property there. He communicated that [Molotov] did not [have property there]. Then Stalijn said: The idiot is lying to me. He did not investigate as he should have.

Cde. A. Mikoyan: Molotov undertook an action of no importance, without Stalin’s approval. When he found out about it, he said that Molotov no longer respects instructions, no longer consults with his comrades, disconsiders them, etc. This Molotov told to me himself. Stalin said, likewise, that Khrushchev is Polish.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: That was in 1939. At the time Ezhov was at the Interior [Ministry]. He said that I am Polish. I was a friend of this Ezhov, he was a worker, a party member since 1917, a good comrade. Stalin made a criminal of him. He began to drink. Ezhov, being friends with Malenkov, told him that I was Polish. Malenkov, on his part, told Stalin. When I came from the Ukraine to the CC plenum I was waiting together with Ezhov. Stalin came out and came towards us – and in his brutal manner – he asked me: what is your name? I told him: every since you have known me, no one has ever suspected that I have had another name. He then said a Polish family name to me. I told him: it is easy to verify f I was Polish. In my village, my relatives still live, my mother – my father had died. In the mines where I worked my work comrades still live. You can verify it. Then he said: Ezhov told me so. Ezhov said: I did not say that, after which Stalin left upset. After Stalin’s departure, Ezhov took me by the arm and told me: Maybe I was drunk, I was talking nonsense, but I did not say such a thing to Stalin. Malenkov told him that. (Before, Malenkov did not drink, not even a drop of beer touched his lips.) Stalin however made him into a drunk.

It was good that Stalin knew me and believed me. Otherwise I would have been arrested immediately and who knows…

Cde. Lesechiko: After Vishinsky’s theory, it would have been necessary for you to demonstrate that were not Polish and not for those who accused you to prove what they had affirmed.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: It was mad-house. When the Hitlerist armies approached Moscow, Stalin arrested a certain Vannikov, the director of an armaments factory in Tula, because he had information that the Germans intended, after they occupied Moscow, to make him Prime Minister of Russia. This Vannikov was a Jew. They beat him, until he admitted that he had ties with Hitler and that they proposed him as prime minister. The same happened with Mikhail Kaganovich, the brother of [Lazar Moiseyevich] Kaganovich. Stalin interrogated him personally, After that he was taken to the WC and shot. Beria had been classmates with Vannikov.

Cde. A. Mikoyan: I want to clarify something. Mikhail Kaganovich was interrogated by Molotov, Malenkov and Beria, and was shot afterwards. Beria explained that it was a stupidity because, while he was being led to the WC to be shot, Molotov, Malenkov and Beria had decided to free him.

I knew Mikhail Kaganovich, he was a hard-working man. During the Civil War we fought together, we confiscated the produce from the peasants.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: When you are proposed for the post of President of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, you should tell of how you robbed the peasants.

Stalin praised [L. M.] Kaganovich for the way he behaved regarding his brother. When he was told: your brother is an enemy, he agreed. He is a dog, that should be kicked in the ass. Mikhail Kaganovich was better than his brother. They were four brothers: Yuri, Mihail and another one who is a boot-maker in Kiev.

That is in the domain of the past. 11 years have since passed. Stalin, before he died, said: “I am going to die. What will you do? The imperialists will strangle you.” When he died, the anti-aircraft artillery was on the margins of Moscow. The soldiers were on guard duty day and night, awaiting, at any moment, the attack on the Soviet Union. In 1955 Molotov telegraphed from San Francisco, where he attended a conference on the occasion of the UN’s 10 year anniversary: “The situation is grave. We must prepare for war.” The representatives of the USA frightened him. We said when we read the telegram: nothing will happen and in fact they took no such measures whatsoever. Now the situation is otherwise.

Cde. A. Mikoyan: Our military is right next to the USA.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: Castro’s sister fled to America. Another sister is studying in Moscow. His brother is a farmer in Santiago, Oriente province. He regrets that he did not leave for Miami. When Castro reproached his brother for not supporting socialism, he replied: but at the beginning you did not talk about socialism.

Cde. N. Podgorny: Castro’s mother asked him how Communism would be. After the agrarian reform they were left with 75 cabaleros (out of a total of around 12 hectares). He responded: when we take the other 75 cabaleros that will mean Communism. She said: “Then it is better for us to stick with socialism.” His mother died recently.

Cde. E. Bodnaras related a meeting between Petru Groza and [Mark] Etheridge, the special envoy of Truman.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: Groza is known, we were together at an anniversary in China.

… [Elipses in Romanian document]

I do not know what you discussed there. You may remain longer if you want. We have enough stew.

Cde. N. Podgorny: The Romanian comrades said they can stay even 99 days.

Cde. E. Bodnaras: More precisely, cde. Maurer said that we could stay one day, two, five, nine, even ninety-nine days, if it is necessary.

Cde. N. Podgorny: Tomorrow we will meet formally. The comrades will be given the floor.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: I would say that, to be honest, we have nothing needing discussion with you. I have affirmed this: Maybe Romania can survive without us?

Cde. E. Bodnaras: It cannot.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: It can. There is no problem [for it to do so]. It lived so during [Marshal] Antonescu. Now it is more powerful and smarter.

Maybe the Soviet Union can survive without Romania? It can. We have lived so. I remember when I went into the Carpathian mountains, the Romanian border guards shot at me, not at me but over my head. They thought I was reconnoitering. That was in 1941, before the war. However, what is best for us? To have such a frontier, as it was before the war? We could look at one another over the fence, but without visiting each other. Now, however, we can visit each other reciprocally and that is certainly much better.

The problem of commercial relations. You’re trying to persuade me. But something remains unclarified. You do not sell anything to us because you are compelled to do so, nor do we force you to buy something from us you do not need. That would ruin our relations. What you want – you buy, what you don’t want – you don’t take.

We will not fell insulted. That is the problem. Now you are trying to persuade me. I tell you that the secret cannot be maintained. On the contrary, the more secret something is, the more rapidly it will reach me.

I was the first who said: let’s liquidate the SOVROMs. Is there any need for a socialist country to have property in another socialist country? Now you again raise this problem. To Hell with it! What, I have to answer for Stalin? The SOVROM problem was invented by you because of the lack of problems.

I, repeat, am for coordination and cooperation. That is my opinion, my conviction, my theory. It results from Marxist-Leninist theory.

When commercial capital appeared, countries were developing in an autarchic manner. However, this tendency was discredited by life. The development of industry and commerce led to another development. The capitalists apply cooperation on a large scale. That is also coordination and cooperation. We are socialist countries. Cooperation is advantageous, on a strictly voluntary basis however. No one can force a state or a group of states to participate if it does not want. I am for that now as well and you can try and persuade me as much as you like, I will continue to say that the world turns. You do not want this, you do not need this, that’s your affair, however were will not obstruct you.

If we are talking about coordination and cooperation, we do not need it. We have all of the lines of production, we have natural wealth. Cooperation is not necessary for us.

Much is discussed abroad, it is said that we want to rob Romania. What do we want to take from Romania? Don’t be angry about what I say to you. If Romania does not want to sell us petrol, it need not do so.

What does 2 million tons mean against the 224 million tons that is our production? We have everything we need and nothing of the sort even crosses our mind. That is a shameless calumny. The most sacred thing is: if it is not convenient for you, do not make commerce, do not participate in cooperation and we will not fight about it. All of the countries cooperate with us – not so much between themselves, but with us. And for us the cooperation is sometimes disadvantageous. We do not exploit, but we are exploited through this cooperation. For the socialist countries it represents a means of connection and a necessity.

Cde. A. Mikoyan: For example, the GDR.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: If we did not help the GDR, it could not maintain itself and it would be swallowed by the FRG. Is this advantageous for us or for the socialist countries? It is useful both for the Poles, for the Czechs, for the Hungarians and for us and you. Besides our commerce together, we are communists, we fight for the same aims. In any circumstance however, commerce with capitalism must not cause damage to the other socialist states. I have told Tito, for example: Take what you want, only do not sell your soul. I do not see at present any basis for us to fight. What idiot considered that we desired for Romania to remain an agrarian country? What, do we not give you credit? Are we not according you assistance for constructing the steel combine at Galaci? If yes, then how can it be that we want Romania to remain an agrarian country? We built a tractor factory, a truck factory (cde. Lesechiko: a phenol factory). How is it possible someone could say that we want you to remain an agrarian country? We build metallurgic plants in India without capitalists. America refused. We consider that this is in the interest of socialism. How could we proceed otherwise regarding Romania, which is a socialist country? This is a unimaginable calumny at our expense.

You have put the problem referring to our party at your meetings. You have participated at our Sessions, you have seen the people. They know nothing of our divergences. We have never raised this problem.

I was told, I was informed that a woman who was in Romania with a delegation and who had been in Romania before, came and began to cry. What she saw there, what is happening there provoked her tears.

Its your business. If you do not need friends, do what you like. Like with Pushkin Street. There was such a street, but now you have changed the names.[2] Do you understand what it means to change the name of some streets which before had Russian names?

Cde. N. Podgorny: And in that moment!

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: Regardless of the moment. We are cultured people, that is not a simple act, that is “an anti-Russian manifestation.”

Today we read the TASS bulletin and the material of the foreign intelligence services. Foreign Ambassadors are talking about the fact that there is a purge of those married with Soviet citizens taking place in Romania; they are losing their ranks. The fact speaks for itself, and it doesn’t say friendship. It is said that the law does not permit those married with women of other nationalities [citizenship] to hold positions of responsibility in the state apparatus. However this law existed before as well, but now they are being fired. Thus it is not a question of the law, but about the relations which are being created now.

We visited you, we discussed all of the problems, were also hunted together, we passed the time together agreeably and we thought that things had been resolved. However, you tricked me. I fell into the situation of an idiot, that you should believe me a … I am 70 years old. I entered into the party at a tender age, I passed through the civil war, I did not enter into the party as president of the Council of Ministers, I did not fight for position, but for the revolution. No matter the way in which you try and manipulate me, you will not bend me. If you do not have respect for me, do not invite me, only to gossip about me afterwards. Why does Ceausescu beat with his fist on the table when he talks about me?

If you do not want to maintain friendship, you do not have to, things can go on without that, but do not make scandal. If you do not want, do not invite me to visit. Why should Ceausescu beat with his fist on the table in Hungary? I remind you that at Pitsunda Ceausescu said that Mao was rather crazy.

What happened after that? What do you want from us?

You tell comrade Dej, who is a worker, whom we esteem, we love him, that I am not thinking to revenge myself. I want to forget everything, to be friends. If not, we will inform the party, but nothing good will come of it.

We have information, true, from a reliable source, that a comrade of yours in a position of very great responsibility, declared regarding some exercises that were to take place in Romania: these are Russian exercises, we told them that we do not agree to have them in Romania, because we do not want to spoil the planting, that the tanks will roll over it and that in general they are not necessary. When the enemy finds out such things from a communist, it is obvious that the action is directed against our party. This is a man whom we know.

Cde. E. Bodnaras: It cannot be, and if it is, then his declarations are completely irresponsible.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: Why is all this necessary? What did we do?

Our relations with Romania were poor up until the war. Romania occupied Odessa, Crimea. Romanian troops were at Stalingrad. Many people live among us who have not forgotten what occurred during the war. You understanding that a match is sufficient to set alight that which still smolders. We met up with Romanians at Stalingrad.

It is said that in the Romanian grammar [textbook] there was a letter of Slav origin and it was changed with a Latin letter.[3] Why make such changes? To satisfy the enemy? I don’t know who requires this but the cause of communism certainly does not. We are very angry, and we are ready for anything. You don’t want something, you tell the truth. And then with the Russian spies. I have to tell you, this smells of Stalinism. Aside from damage, it can bring nothing else. None of our spies are there [in Romania]. That is just stupidity.

Cde. Kosygin: You should be more careful regarding your informants, because there are those among them who do not desire our friendship.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: That’s what happened when things were reported to Stalin. Stalin was a communist, body and soul, but he was a sick man. Any dirt could be used by him, because he believed everything that was told to him.

Let’s speak openly. We are ready for anything: to be friends, and to polemicize in public. If you continue, we will inform the party and the people. Because now we are behaving like the ostrich. We stick our head in the sand and leave our ass outside and pretend that we know nothing. But people read, they travel and they hear, they listen to the radio, they see in the Western press, they know all of that, and we remain silent. Or they think that we are guilty. That is my opinion.

Cde. A. Mikoyan: And our opinion, of all of us.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: And another thing. A madman wrote about the Danube Delta (he referred to the article by Valev). You know that in our party we discussed this problem. You know, however, that not all of the Danube Delta is yours, the part with the Chilia [branch] passed to us [after World War II]. Thus there is no problem. If several years ago some crazy person had raised this problem, it would have needed to attract attention. However, you have made this a problem.

Your article was published. We did not approve of the article; I consider that it should not have been written the way it was. I don’t think I need to tell you that for our relations to be clean, honest, that respect should be shown regarding the borders. Do you really believe what you have written? You used this in support of the activity which you lead against ust. [Marshal] Antonescu fought against us. In Romania there are many anti-Soviet, anti-Russian elements, and if they will raise up, we do not know what can happen.

[…]

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: Come on, let’s establish a rule. There are no secrets in this world. A person of responsibility in Romania affirms something to someone in a confidential manner about the relations between the USSR and the PRR and we will have the documents concerning what was said there. He is a person with even very great responsibility. Thus, practically, there are no secrets that we will not discover. Let me give you an example of a case that happened here awhile ago. Voroshilov received the ambassador of Iran. The ambassador addressed him: Your highness! And Voroshilov said: we have had such “highnesses” but we have terminated with them. The ambassador communicated this back home. And we, through known methods, got our hands on this document maybe even before it arrived back in the Iran of the Shah. We called in Voroshilov and asked him: Klim, did you say that? He denied it. Are you crazy? We called Pegov, the secretary of the Presidium, who assisted at the meeting and he confirmed what had been said. Then we told [Voroshilov]: Although we basically agree with you, you should not proceed in such a manner.

The most secret things arrive the most rapidly to [our] knowledge. We have said that in the interest of friendship not to put faith in such affirmations.

[…]

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: In truth, you had full moral right to criticize us for not informing you about the sending of the missiles to Cuba. I had told the Poles and Bulgarians, who were vacationing here [in Crimea]. We acknowledge that we were culpable. But let’s judge things a little. If we had not acted, would Cuba still exist? No. Castro told me so. Especially after Kennedy promised that he would support the counterrevolutionaries. What did we win? We mobilized the entire fleet, and for our transports we paid in gold. We brought 48 thousand soldiers there. Now we have reduced their number but we still have enough. Castro says that so long as the Russians are here, the Americans would not dare attack Cuba.

Castro, a former land-owner, has become a hero. In five years he has become the leader of a people.

We have maintained Cuba and it must be said that I imposed this adventure.

Cde. Mikoyan: We supported him.

Cde. N. S. Khrushchev: I said then that this could bring us to the threshold of war. But what if we did not act? What would happen then? We thought about it. Three times we discussed it and only the third time did we decide to go on this adventure.

You, what do you think? That Cuba could be taken with prayers? If we had not acted, America would not have behaved as it did. We sent 44 missiles – an insignificant number compared with what we have. Adenauer was happy, even though we brought them there against him as well.[4]

The transport of the missiles was brilliantly accomplished. Two years passed since [they

first arrived]. We forced things. However, we could not camouflage them. The military told me that we could, but it was not possible. The palm trees are too sparse.

[1] Podgorny is on shaky ground here as many Romanian agricultural terms are the closest to Latin. For example, the Romanian word for bread “pâine”  and its Latin correspondent “pane.”

[2] Many Soviet-imposed street names and the names of municipalities and counties were returned to their Romanian originals during 1962-1963, for example, the city and county of Brasov – renamed Stalin in the late 1940s – became Brasov once again. However, many Russian literary figures (like Pushkin, Turgheniev and Gorky) and even some historical Russian figures (like Kisselef), continued to have streets named after them.

[3] Soviet authorities launched a policy in the 1920s of redefining the ethnic identity of Romanians in the province of Moldova and especially the northern part of it then-still within Romania known as Bessarabia. Romanian generally held their origins to be the result of a combination of the Dacians – a Thracian tribe – and the Romans whereas the new Soviet-generated mythos claimed them to be of Slav origin and therefore part of the Soviet sphere of influence. During the Russification campaign at the end of the war, Stalin mandated a change in the Romanian orthography that replace the letters “o” and “a” (â) from Romania (România) and Romanian (Român) – the symbolic link with Rome and Roman – with the apparently more Slavic “u” and “î” (thus Rumînia and Rumîn). In 1963 Bucharest reinstated the original orthography.

[4] Khrushchev is referencing the tensions then current over West Berlin following the Berlin Crisis of late 1961. Khrushchev appears to be insinuating that Adenauer was relieved that the missiles were not placed in East Berlin.