Shoe-banging incident

Shoe-banging incident

The Nikita Khrushchev shoe-banging incident happened during the 902nd Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly held in New York on 12 October 1960 when the infuriated leader of the Soviet Union pounded his shoe on his delegate-desk.

During the meeting, head of the Filipino delegation to the United Nations Lorenzo Sumulong stated the following in reference to Soviet foreign policy: cquote|My delegation, the Philippine delegation, attaches great importance to this item entitled "Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples", the allocation of which is now under discussion.We have been a colonized country. We have passed through all the trials and tribulations of a colonized people. It took us centuries and centuries to fight, to struggle, and to win our fight for the recognition of our independence, and, therefore, it would only be consistent with our history, our experience and our aspirations as a people that we vote in favour of having this item referred to the highest possible level of the General Assembly.While this is not the occasion to discuss the substance of the item, I would like to place on record my delegation's view on the import as well as on the scope, the extent, the metes and bounds of this item. We feel this to be necessary in view of the statements made at the start of our meeting by the Premier of the Soviet Union. It is our view that the declaration proposed by the Soviet Union should cover the inalienable right to independence not only of the peoples and territories which yet remain under the rule of Western colonial Powers, but also of 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. [Official Records, 15th Session of the UN General Assembly] Mr. Khrushchev 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 proceeded to demand that Assembly President Frederick Boland from Ireland call "the toady of American imperialism" [Other translations of what Khrushchev said as reported by newspapers say "a jerk, a stooge and a lackey of imperialism", see Nina Khrushcheva's article] Sumulong to order. The President did caution Mr. Sumulong to "avoid wandering out into an argument which is certain to provoke further interventions". Khrushchev pounded his fists on the table during the continued speech of Sumulong and even picked up his shoe and banged the desk with it. [A Global Affair: An Inside Look at the United Nations (1995) ISBN 1860641393, [ p.230] ] The Philippine Delegate was again interrupted. Now on a Point of Order, made by Romanian Foreign Vice-minister Eduard Mezincescu. The latter also managed to provoke and insult the Assembly's President to such an extent that Mr. Boland, crimson in face, turned off the Minister's microphone. The chaotic scene finally ended when General Assembly President Frederick Boland pounded the gavel (which shattered and bounced off), adjourning the meeting.

Other sources report a slightly different order of events: Khrushchev first banged the shoe then went to the rostrum to protest. ["Nikita Khrushchev", by William Taubman, Sergei Khrushchev, Abbott Gleason, and David Gehrenbeck, "Yale University Press" (May 2000) ISBN 0300076355 ]

Khrushchev's great-granddaughter Nina Khrushcheva writes that after years of embarrassed silence her family explained how exactly that happened. Khrushchev was wearing new and tight shoes so that he took them off while sitting. When he started pounding the table with his fist during his angry response his watch fell off. When he was picking it up his shoes caught his eye... She also mentions that multiple versions of the incident have been in circulation, with various dates and occasions. [ The case of Khrushchev's shoe] by Nina Khrushcheva, "New Statesman", UK, 02 October 2000]

Nikita Khrushchev in his memoirs mentions a yet another case of shoe-banging. Khrushchev says he was speaking against the Franco regime in strong expressions. 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 says: "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." ["Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev. Vol. III: Statesman", "Penn State Press", 2007, ISBN 0271029358, [,M1 p. 269] ] The footnote to this text says that Khrushchev's recollections are mistaken.

In popular culture

In the finale of the 1966 film version of "Batman", members of United World Security Council are rehydrated following the accidental mixing of their powdered remains. The mixing of powders results in the mixing of personalities and languages of the delegates and the British representative is seen shouting in Russian and banging his shoe on the table, possibly in reference to this event.

In "The Simpsons" episode "Das Bus", Principal Skinner restores order at a Miniature UN meeting by banging his shoe on the desk. This is a direct reference to Khrushchev's actions.


External links

* [ photo of Khrushchev brandishing his shoe] , archives of "Komsomolskaya Pravda"

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