From the Vaults: New York Times, October 23, 1992

If anyone has ever worried about the harm that Communists, if they obtained power,  can cause them, they are not necessarily being paranoid: Communists can be  genocidal maniacs. Below I copy an extract from an article by Fedor Berlatsky, an adviser to Nikita Khrushchev, that appeared eighteen years ago in the New York Times. I have taken the liberty of highlighting a key quotation in order to demonstrate my point:

Castro Wanted a Nuclear Strike

Fedor Burlatsky

New York Times, October 23, 1992, p. A33.


For me, the culmination of the Cuban missile crisis was not Oct. 27, 1962, when John F. Kennedy awaited a reply to his ultimatum to pull the missiles off the island, but the telegram Fidel Castro sent Nikita Khrushchev earlier: “I propose the immediate launch of a nuclear strike on the United States. The Cuban people are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the cause of the destruction of imperialism and the victory of world revolution.”

Two large question marks and exclamation points stood out in the margin of the telegram. They were written by Leonid Brezhnev’s successor, Yuri Andropov, who was then in charge of an international division of the party’s Central Committee.  I found him pacing in his office, repeating over and over: “Adventurists. Such adventurists.” I asked, “Do you mean the Cubans or someone in this building as well?”  He looked at me sharply but said nothing. Later, as if returning to my question, Mr. Andropov told me what Khrushchev had told his advisers about the telegram: “You see how far things can go. We’ve got to get those missiles out of there before a real fire starts.”

Hat Tip: Paul Bogdanor who has spent far longer in the vaults than I have.