On October 14, 1964, after being deposed by his rivals at a Central Committee meeting, primarily for being an "international embarassment," Nikita Khrushchev, who until only moments earlier was the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, sat down in his office and wrote two letters.

Later, his successor, Leonid Brezhnev, upon taking office found the two letters and a note Khrushchev had attached:

"To my successor: When you find yourself in a hopeless situation which you cannot escape, open the first letter, and it will save you. Later, when you again find yourself in a hopeless situation from which you cannot escape, open the second letter."

And soon enough, Brezhnev found himself in a situation which he couldn't get himself out of, and in desperation he tore open the first letter. It said simply, "Blame it all on me." This Brezhnev did, blaming Khrushchev for the latest problems, and it worked like a miracle, saving him and extending his career. However, in due time Brezhnev found himself in another disaster from which he could not extricate himself. Without despairing he eagerly searched his office and found the second letter, which he tore open desperate for its words of salvation. It read thus:

"Sit down, and write two letters."


This brief lesson in politics brought to you by: William Taubman: Khrushchev: The Man and His Era - London, Free Press, 2004 Khrushchev Remembers: The Glasnost Tapes - translated and edited by Jerrold L. Schecter, Boston, Little Brown, 1990 Khrushchev Remembers - edited by Strobe Talbott, 1970

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