The Kitchen Debate
This debate took place between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev during Nixon's 1959 visit to Moscow. It is called the "kitchen" debate because of a well-publicized exchange of angry words at the model kitchen exhibit of the U.S. Trade and Cultural Fair in Sokolniki Park. However, this exchange was only one episode in a series of spontaneous and unplanned exchanges that began on the morning of Nixon's first visit with Khrushchev and lasted during his entire tour of the U.S. Fair. This debate took place during a time of increasing tension in the Cold War, starting with Sputnik in 1957 and ending with the U-2 affair in 1960.
[image from the Disney Urban Legends page by David Mikkelson
with true story of how Khrushchev was not allowed to visit Disneyland in 1959]
Oct. 4, 1957 - Khrushchev launched Sputnik 1
Nov. 7, 1957 - Ike responds with national TV address - need for reassurance
- same day as 40th anniversary of Russian Revolution
- agrees with Gaither Report for new programs
- especially the "big job of molding public opinion as well as avoiding extremes. We must get the American public to understand that we are confronting a tough problem that we can lick."
- on TV, Vanguard rocket with 1st satellite explodes 2 seconds after ignition 12/6/57
- Ike creates civilian ARPA 1/22/58 for anti-missile research (origin of the Internet - see the Hobbes' Internet Timeline)
- Jupiter rocket launches Explorer 1 satellite 1/31/58, the first of 31 satellites launched during Ike's presidency. (see newspaper headlines from Huntsville Times)
- Ike creates Killian Committee 2/4/58 to reorganize America's space and rocket program
- Lyndon Johnson leads Congress to create NASA 7/16/58 as the nation's civilian space agency (see the online book Orders of Magnitude: A History of the NACA and NASA, 1915-1990 by Roger E. Bilstein) from NASA's history publications page
- Ike creates Marshall Space Flight Center from the military Redstone arsenal 3/15/60
Jan. 1, 1958 - Mikhail Menshikov appointed ambassador to U.S.
Jan. 27, 1958 - Russian-American Cultural Agreement signed
August 1958 - Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey trips to Russia
Nov. 10, 1958 - Khrushchev's Berlin ultimatum
Jan. 4, 1959 - Deputy Premier Mikoyan trip to U.S.
- Mikoyan and Nixon are pictured at right when Nixon later visited Moscow
Feb. 25, 1959 - Macmillan meets with Khrushchev in Moscow
- but ended by "toothache insult"
March 1959 - Billy Graham's first tour of Russia
May 11, 1959 - Geneva Foreign Ministers Conference
May 27, 1959 - Berlin deadline expires (so does John Foster Dulles)
June 23, 1959 - Averill Harriman's "Alarming Interview"
June 28, 1959 - Deputy Premier Kozlov trip to U.S.
July 19, 1959 - Congress proclaims Captive Nations Week
July 23, 1959 - Nixon arrives in Russia
Nixon arrived in record-setting time of 11 hours nonstop from New York in a Boeing 707
July 24, 6 am - Nixon visits Chaikovsky Street farmers market
July 24, 10 am - Nixon meets Khrushchev at Kremlin
The debate begins in Khrushchev's office (see 2 more pictures)
July 24, 12 noon - start Sokolniki Park tour (see 2 more pictures)
Impromptu debate takes place; recorded on new Ampex color videotape - see Telenews clip
debate continues at the free Pepsi stand, with Milton Eisenhower (see 4 more pictures)
debate continues at the model home with GE electric kitchen
Nixon: "This is the newest model. This is the kind which is built in thousands of units for direct installation in the houses.... Our steel workers, as youb know, are on strike. But any steel worker could buy this house. They earn $3 an hour. This house costs about $100 a month to buy on a contract running 25 to 30 years."
Khrushchev: "The Americans have created their own image of the Soviet man and thinks he is as you want him to be. But he is not as you think. You think the Russian people will be dumfounded to see these things, but the fact is that newly built Russian houses have all this equipment right now. Moreover, all you have to do to get a house is to be born in the Soviet Union... Yet you say that we are slaves to communism."
July 24, 6pm - official opening ceremonies start second tour
July 24, 9pm - wine toasts end second tour
Khrushchev: "A good wine. To the elimination of all military bases on foreign lands."
Nixon: "I am for peace. We will drink to talking - as long as we are talking we are not fighting... One hundred years of life. I will drink to that."
Khrushchev: "When I reach 99 years, we will discuss the question of bases further."
Nixon: "You mean that at 99 you will still be in power? No free elections?"
July 25, 1959 - Nixon tours Moscow
- Spaso House dinner
- 30 mile trip to Dacha guest house
July 26, 1959 - Nixon meets with Khrushchev at the Dacha
- Moscow River boat ride - "Are you captive people?"
- 6-hour whitefish picnic in the trees near Dacha
- return to Spaso House
July 27, 1959 - Nixon begins tour of Russia
- Leningrad shipyards
- Novosibirsk ballet
- Ural hydroelectric plant
- Sverdlovsk city council
- Petrolyarsk copper mine
- Beloyarsk nuclear power plant
Aug. 1, 1959 - Nixon TV address from Moscow
Aug. 2, 1959 - Nixon trip to Poland
- Tomb of Unknown Soldier
- Warsaw Ghetto Shrine
- meeting with Gomulka
Aug. 5, 1959 - Nixon returns to U.S.
Sept 12, 1959 - Russian Luna II hits moon
Sept 15, 1959 - Khrushchev arrives in U.S. for 13 days
- helicopter ride over D.C.
- escorted by Henry Cabot Lodge to New York
- tour of Can Can set in Hollywod (no Disneyland)
- San Francisco, Garst farm in Iowa, steel mill in Pittsburgh
- Camp David meeting with Ike - Paris summit planned
Dec. 1959 - Ike's 3-week goodwill trip
Feb. 1960 - Ike's trip to South America
Feb. 10, 1960 - De Gaulle tests first French A-bomb
- De Gaulle had returned to power in the 1958 Algerian crisis and created the Fifth Republic on May 29, 1958
Feb. 13, 1960 - Russia-Cuba Trade Pact
- Fidel Castro had won his revolution against Batista in 1959 and became the first successful Marxist leader in the American hemisphere
March 24, 1960 - Ike agrees to stop U.S. atomic tests
April 9, 1960 - resumption of U-2 flights - possible ICBM site at Plesetsk
April 16, 1960 - Sino-Soviet split made public
May 1, 1960 - Gary Powers' U-2 shot down by SAM-2 missile
May 7, 1960 - Ike learns that Powers alive
May 11, 1960 - Khrushchev displays U-2 remains in Moscow's "second U.S. Exhibition"
May 14, 1960 - Ike leaves for Paris Big Four summit on Air Force One
May 15, 1960 - Khrushchev threat against U-2 bases; U.S. goes on DefCon 3 alert
May 16, 1960 - Khrushchev cancels Ike's Moscow visit; refuses any summit agreements
May 22, 1960 - Midas 2 launched (1st infrared spy satellite)
July 1, 1960 - RB-47 shot down
Aug. 10, 1960 - Discoverer 13 launched
- first successful test, after 12 failures, of the CORONA system approved by Eisenhower Feb. 7, 1958, to use rocket-launched satellites with cameras that returned film to earth in a cannister.
Aug. 18, 1960 - CORONA satellite launched (1st photo spy satellite)
Corona photo of Pentagon,
1967, from NRO
- the satellite "orbited the Earth for a day, and returned its canister to earth, where it was snatched out the air by a specially equipped aircraft on August 19. The camera carried on that flight would be retroactively designated the KH-1 (KH for KEYHOLE) and was cable of producing images with resolution in the area of 25-40 feet - a far cry from what would be standard in only a few years. It did yield, however, more images of the Soviet Union in its single day of operation than did the entire U-2 program" (quote from U.S. Satellite Imagery, 1960-1999 by Jeffrey T. Richelson)
Khrushchev, Tito in New York,
9/26/60, from UN
Aug. 19, 1960 - Powers made confession during trial
- "deeply repentant and profoundly sorry"
- jailed in Russia until exchanged for Rudolf Abel in Feb. 1962
Sep. 21, 1960 - Khrushchev arrives in U.S. for 25 days at United Nations session
- Nehru, Nasser, Tito, Sukarno plus 14 new nations
- Khrushchev pounded table during Macmillan's speech
- Khrushchev embraced Castro
Nov. 4, 1960 - Kennedy defeated Nixon 34,227,096 to 34,108,546
A Note on Sources:
- The pictures on this page, unless otherwise noted, are from the Vice-Presidential Trip Files of the Nixon Prepresidential Papers at the National Archives - Pacific Southwest Region at Laguna Niguel
- Corona satellite history and photos from National Reconnaissance Office
- Francis Gary Powers film
revised 4/15/04 for Cold War Policies