Shoe-banging incident
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

's shoe-banging incident allegedly occurred during the 902nd Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly held in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 on 12 October 1960, when the infuriated leader of the Soviet Union was said to have pounded his shoe on his delegate-desk in protest of a speech by Philippine
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 delegate Lorenzo Sumulong
Lorenzo Sumulong
Lorenzo 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...

 which accused the Soviet Union of having "swallowed up" Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 and deprived the population of "the free exercise of their civil and political rights".

Though all parties are in agreement that Khrushchev was enraged by Sumulong's speech and loudly denounced it from the rostrum, witness accounts vary as to the extent of Khrushchev's actions while at his delegate-desk, and there are no credible photographic or video records available. There is at least one fake photographic depiction of the incident, where a shoe was added into an existing photograph.

Description of incident

During the meeting, head of the Filipino
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

Delegation is the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person to carry out specific activities. However the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work. Delegation empowers a subordinate to make decisions, i.e...

 to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Lorenzo Sumulong stated the following in reference to Soviet foreign policy:
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" and demanded Assembly President Frederick Boland
Frederick Boland
Frederick Henry Boland was an Irish diplomat, who served as ambassador to Britain and the first Irish Ambassador to the United Nations....

 (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.

Khrushchev pounded his fists on his desk in protest as Sumulong continued to speak, at one point picking up his shoe and banging the desk with it. Other sources report a slightly different order of events: Khrushchev first banged the shoe then went to the rostrum to protest. 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
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

. 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.

Subsequent commentary

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 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 discarded shoes caught his eye and he took the opportunity to pick one up and pound the desk with it. She also mentions that multiple versions of the incident have been in circulation, with various dates and occasions.

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

Nikita Khrushchev in his memoirs mentioned yet another case of shoe-banging. Khrushchev wrote that he was speaking against the Franco regime in strong expressions. A representative of Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 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
State Duma of the Russian Empire
The State Duma of the Russian Empire was a legislative assembly in the late Russian Empire, which met in the Taurida Palace in St. Petersburg. It was convened four times between 1906 and the collapse of the Empire in 1917.-History:...

 in Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, 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." The footnote to this text says that Khrushchev's recollections are mistaken.

According to Sergei Khrushchev, he could not find any photo or video evidence of the incident. Both NBC and CBC run a search in their archives but were unable to find a tape of the event. 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 rather obese, couldn't reach his feet.

This specific issue was addressed in 2002 by a former UN staffer, who confirmed that Khrushchev could not have spontaneously removed his shoe at his desk, but claimed he 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 she saw him later bang the shoe on the desk, thus functionally confirming the reports by Nina Khrushcheva and Viktor Sukhodrev.
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