Shoe-banging incident

Khrushchev at a meeting of the UN General Assembly on 22 September, three weeks before the incident

Nikita Khrushchev's shoe-banging incident occurred during the 902nd Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York in 1960. During the session on 12 October, Khrushchev is said to have pounded his shoe on his delegate-desk in protest at a speech by Philippine delegate Lorenzo Sumulong. [1] [2] [3]

In 2003, American scholar William Taubman reported that he had interviewed some eyewitnesses who said that Khrushchev had brandished his shoe but not banged it. He also reported that no photographic or video records of the shoe-banging had been found. [4] However, in his biography of Khrushchev, he wrote that he accepted that the shoe-banging had occurred. [5] There is at least one fake photograph, where a shoe was added into an existing photograph. [6]

Description of incident with Sumulong

The often used fake image of Khrushchev waving a shoe (above), and the original photo taken at the United Nations General Assembly, 23 September 1960, AP archives (below) [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

On 12 October, head of the Filipino delegation Lorenzo Sumulong referred to "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". [12] 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" [13] and demanded Assembly President Frederick Boland (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, and, according to some sources, at one point picked up his shoe and banged the desk with it. [14] Some other sources report a different order of events: Khrushchev first banged the shoe then went to the rostrum to protest. [15] 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. 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.

This incident was reported at the time by a number of newspapers, including The New York Times, [16] The Washington Post, [17] The Guardian, [18] The Times, [19] and Le Monde. [20] The New York Times featured a photo that pictured Khrushchev and Andrei Gromyko, with a shoe on Khrushchev's desk. [21]