On this day in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev became Soviet premier and 1st sect of the Communist Party. As you may remember, Old Joe Stalin had died March 5, 1953 leaving a handful of men in power, with Khrushchev clearly leading the Communist Party.
Instead of a Stalin-like dictatorship, Khrushchev was known for a policy that ended the most inhumane practices of Stalin's reign. The Soviet Union, of course remained a one-party totalitarian state, but conditions in the USSR were much improved with Khrushchev rejecting Stalin's extremes. However, he did create new factions in the party as well as schisms in the U.S. Communist Party which had lost a great deal of members during the McCarthy days and proceeding Stalin's death. Beginning in 1953 he became the First Secretary of the Communist Party (premier) and from 1958 to 1964 he was Chairman of the Council of Ministers. In 1964, Khrushchev was removed from power by members of his own party and spent the rest of his life, a few years, mostly banished from Party activity and under close watch by the KGB.
As someone very fascinated by the relationship between Kennedy and Khrushchev as well as someone intrigued by the personality and character of Khrushchev, I can't help but think that Khrushchev is a highly overlooked individual in history. He of course was overshadowed by Stalin, Brezhnev, and later in the legacy sense, Gorbachev.
There is certainly something to be said for the fact that whenever I am watching a questionable news story unfold (for instance the WMDs that were originally reported in Iraq), I can't help but think of what Mr. Khrushchev once said during those dark days of October 1962: "Someday history will tell the whole profound truth about what is happening today." Positive legacy, or not, there is no denying the very influential role this man played in the history of the Cold War.