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Reading 3: Khrushchev Speaks of His Gettysburg Visit
During Khrushchev's visit with Eisenhower, he learned much about life in the United States. Khrushchev experienced the simplicity that American life could offer as he visited Eisenhower's farm and interacted with his grandchildren. Within days of entering the country, Khrushchev also learned to appreciate the power of the free press. During a press conference on September 27, 1959 at the National Press Club in Washington, D. C., Khrushchev utilized his skill at manipulating the media.
Q. Mr. Jaffe of the CBS News. What reason did President Eisenhower give you for postponing his visit to Russia until next spring?After the Gettysburg visit, good will remained for a time as Khrushchev finally agreed to remove the time limit on the Berlin Ultimatum, thereby nullifying it. Eisenhower then agreed to Khrushchev's desire for a summit conference with Great Britain and France to discuss Berlin and other issues. In the following months Khrushchev continually referred to the "Spirit of Camp David"(a feeling of friendship and camaraderie), an opinion that Eisenhower and his advisers failed to share, although they too thought Khrushchev's visit was a success. Khrushchev began to make preparations for Eisenhower's June visit to the Soviet Union, even going to the extreme of building a country dacha (house) for Eisenhower's use and a golf course, since the Soviet Union had none.
Eisenhower looked forward to the Paris summit in mid-May and his trip to the USSR in June as harbingers of the end of the Cold War. His hopes for the future were dashed, however, when an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960. Angry that the United States was spying on military installations in the Soviet Union even as the two countries planned "friendly" negotiations, Khrushchev walked out on the Paris summit. The visit to the USSR was canceled and the Cold War continued for another 30 years.
1. Where did Khrushchev's final American press conference take place?
2. Why did the reporter ask about Eisenhower postponing his visit to the Soviet Union? (Refer back to Reading 1.)
3. What do you think Khrushchev meant when he said, "So there is no point in looking for fleas where fleas do not exist"?
4. How did Khrushchev use the press to his advantage?
5. Eisenhower obviously believed that if Khrushchev saw the president's way of life and how it reflected his values (a family man, a farmer, a man of peace) he would be influenced in a positive way. Do you think Eisenhower was successful in using his farm, family, and home for diplomacy? Why or why not?
6. Do you think personal relationships between national leaders can have an effect on political relationships between countries? Explain your answer. Given the issues on which the U.S. and the USSR differed (refer to the Camp David agenda), how much difference could it have made if Eisenhower and Khrushchev had gotten along?
7. Do you think that the events following the Gettysburg visit the downing of an American U-2 plane and Khrushchev's withdrawal from the Paris conference minimize the impact of Khruschev's visit to the United States? Why or why not?
Courtesy of Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library.