Rediscovering the David Rockefeller-Nikita Khrushchev Meeting

By Will Banyan (Copyright © 15 December 2014)

Of all the seemingly incredible incidents that comprise the mythology about the political power of the now 99-year old plutocrat David Rockefeller Senior, perhaps the most enduring is that his private meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow in July 1964 precipitated Khrushchev’s removal from power just a few months later. While no scholars have established any link between their meeting on 31 July 1964 and Khrushchev’s supposedly voluntary “retirement” on 14 October 1964, at the hands of his Kremlin rivals led by Leonid Brezhnev; many conspiracists remain convinced these events are directly connected. “David Rockefeller went to Moscow in 1964 and had Krushchev fired because he was in the way of business with China,” claims the Out With It! website. “David Rockefeller summarily fired Kruschev (sic)”, the late Eustace Mullins declared in his book The World Order (1984).  In his book Hiding in Plain Sight (2000), author Ken Bowers claims:

[David Rockefeller] went to see Kruschev (sic) in Russia in 1964 and told him it was time to abdicate his power and go into retirement. Twenty-four hours later, Kruschev resigned his position (p.131)

Most recently – as of October this year in fact – Servando Gonzalez, writing on the NewsWithViews website, offered this observation at the end of his revisionist and quite contrarian account of the Cuban Missile Crisis:

Unfortunately, Khrushchev did not get rid of Castro, but David Rockefeller got rid of Khrushchev less than two years after the crisis.

In 1964 David visited the Soviet Union and had a two and half hour conversation with the Soviet Premier. We don’t know what the […] subject of the conversation was, but we may safely surmise that David dressed down Khrushchev for his unauthorized attempt to get rid of David’s secret agent Fidel Castro. Barely two months later, David’s secret agents in the Soviet Politburo deposed Khrushchev.

Of most interest is Gonzalez’s claim that in the case of the Rockefeller-Khrushchev meeting, “we don’t know what the… subject of the conversation was…” Interesting because this statement is demonstrably false and for Gonzalez to make it over fifty years after that meeting occurred is extraordinary, not least because it clearly ignores critical information on what transpired that has been available since the early 1980s, and a number of pertinent US Government documents released in 2001. Yet Gonzalez, and a number of other researchers, including Dennis L. Cuddy, Deanna Spingola and Nicholas Hagger, have ignored these sources and instead uncritically recycled speculative claims made nearly fifty years ago.

An Unlikely Story

It is important to recognise in the first instance, that the theory of a direct link between the Rockefeller-Khrushchev meeting, and Khrushchev’s subsequent forced resignation, rests on nothing more than conjecture. The earliest versions of this theory do not refer to any secret or “insider” sources either at the Kremlin or in Washington DC to support the claim David Rockefeller was the architect of Khrushchev’s ousting. The theory is entirely speculative and based on the fallacious reasoning that as Khrushchev’s demise followed their meeting, and David Rockefeller was believed to be extremely powerful, the plutocrat must therefore be responsible.

This can be seen quite clearly in what is possibly the first version of this story in Emanuel Josephson’s The “Federal” Reserve Conspiracy and the Rockefellers – Their “Gold Corner” (1968). Josephson’s story rested on just two sources: Josephson’s earlier book The Truth About Rockefeller: “Public Enemy No.1” (1964) and a lengthy profile of David Rockefeller in The New Yorker. Suffice to say that neither source actually supported his wilder tale that Rockefeller dismissed Khrushchev in a bid to end the Sino-Soviet split, which had disrupted trade between China and the Soviet Union. Reading his unsourced claims that Rockefeller needed to restore trade relations between China and the USSR so the Hong Kong branch of the Chase Manhattan bank could take a share of the profits, it is clear that Josephson’s account is pure invention.  The falsehoods include Josephson’s account as to why Rockefeller and Khrushchev even met:

Since the prime purpose of Rockefeller’s Leningrad Conference was profits for his branch bank in Hong Kong, it is understandable that Khrushchev’s dismissal would be the major item on the agenda. When the conference was almost over, Khrushchev phoned David Rockefeller and implored him to come to Moscow and discuss the matter at the Kremlin (p.292).

In Josephson’s version, Rockefeller “yielded to Khrushchev’s pleadings” and agreed to meet with the Soviet Premier, though it was “of no avail”. Khrushchev, he informs us, was “not able to talk his way out. Shortly thereafter, he was ousted” (p.292). Josephson’s attempt to link the two events rested on nothing but surmise; he had no evidence that the Rockefeller and Khrushchev discussed either the Sino-Soviet split or Khrushchev’s political future.

More speculation can be found in Gary Allen and Larry Abraham’s best-selling None Dare Call It Conspiracy (1971). Citing no sources at all, Allen and Abraham explored the “strange event”, which supposedly took place in “October 1964” when David Rockefeller apparently had a “vacation” in the Soviet Union. Having got these basic facts wrong – Rockefeller actually visited the USSR in July, not October, and never claimed to be on vacation – they resorted to conjecture:

A few days after Rockefeller ended his “vacation” in the Kremlin, Nikita Khrushchev was recalled from a vacation at a Black Sea resort to learn that he had been fired. How strange! As far as the world knew, Khrushchev was the absolute dictator of the Soviet government and, more important, head of the Communist Party which runs the USSR. Who has the power to fire the man who was supposedly the absolute dictator? Did David Rockefeller journey to the Soviet Union to fire an employee? Obviously the position of premier in the Soviet Union is a figurehead with the true power residing elsewhere. Perhaps in New York. (p107).

Gary Allen took up the story again in a later book, the slender tome The Rockefeller File (1976); though this time he actually cited a source: a short report in the Chicago Tribune (Sep. 12, 1964) about US President Lyndon Johnson receiving a private briefing from Rockefeller on his meeting with Khrushchev. From this Allen extrapolated the following account, which suggested the path from Rockefeller’s visit through to Khrushchev’s demise was direct:

As a matter of fact, the meeting between Rockefeller and Khrushchev had been held two months earlier, in July. Apparently whatever trouble had developed was not settled until the President was briefed in September. Within a month, Khrushchev was deposed. David Rockefeller was soon meeting on the Black Sea with his successor…(p.109).

These accounts are not only highly speculative, drawing their conclusions from little or no direct evidence, but they are unproven, inconsistent (for example, Allen & Abraham have Rockefeller visiting in October, but in a subsequent book by Allen, the plutocrat’s visit is in July) and are decades old. And yet a number of researchers have had no qualms about recycling them as though they were proven and reliable.

A particularly illuminating example of this approach can be found in the book, The Syndicate: The Story of the Coming World Government (2004), by British researcher, educationalist and former academic Nicholas Hagger. The Syndicate devoted a few paragraphs to Rockefeller’s alleged role in ousting Khrushchev with Hagger claiming the “Rockefellers” had “expected Khrushchev to advance their commercial interests in Asia” (p.76). The Sino-Soviet split had not helped matters, trade breaking down completely by August 1964. At that time “David Rockefeller was holding a Bilderberg conference in Leningrad to urge Soviet trade with China”, when “Krushchev (sic) phoned Rockefeller and implored him to go to Moscow immediately to discuss the matter in the Kremlin” (p.77). Commenting on what followed, Hagger implied a link between Rockefeller’s visit and Khrushchev’s subsequent ouster:

It was a difficult meeting, the subject being Krushchev’s failure to advance “Rockefellers” oil interests. David Rockefeller’s daughter Neva took notes. In October Krushchev was ousted (p.77).

In the next paragraph, though, Hagger was less restrained, escalating his argument about what happened, openly suggesting Rockefeller was able to pressure the Soviet Union’s political leadership, bending it to his will:

David Rockefeller seems to have been able to influence Soviet domestic politics, perhaps via the Council of the Elders, in order to protect his oil interests in China. Despite the Cold War, it seems that Rockefeller’s relationship with the post-Stalin leadership was such that he could go to Moscow, demand the replacement of the Russian leader and secure it two months later (p.77; emphasis added).

Hagger’s account is supported by 10 endnotes, in which Emanuel Josephson’s book The “Federal” Reserve Conspiracy and Rockefeller (1968) is cited five times, and Josephson’s earlier book, Rockefeller “Internationalist” The Man Who Misrules The World (1952) is cited twice. A few other sources are mentioned, including James Perloff’s The Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline (1988) and John Cotter’s, A Study in Syncretism (1979).

But for the principle allegations about the Rockefeller-Khrushchev meeting, Josephson’s The “Federal” Reserve conspiracy and Rockefeller is the sole source, save for one endnote (67), which includes an extensive quote on the meeting from Allen and Abraham’s None Dare Call It Conspiracy, which he admits  is “at first sight… extremely far-fetched” (p.394). But Hagger does not repudiate it. Indeed, in a subsequent book, The Secret American Dream (2011) (pp.118-119), Hagger recycles the section from The Syndicate, citing Josephson’s book three times.

Another offender is Deanna Spingola who, for her massive book The Ruling Elite: The Zionist Seizure of World Power (2012), recycles the error-ridden speculation that appears in Allen and Abraham’s None Dare Call It Conspiracy:

In October 1964, David Rockefeller went to the Soviet Union, ostensibly for a vacation. Within days, minor officials summoned Nikita S. Khrushchev home from a Black Sea resort. He returned home to discover that Rockefeller had fired him as of October 14, 1964. Few people have the authority to fire a dictator (p.582).

Perhaps the most novel approach has been by another NewsWithViews stalwart, the PhD sporting Dennis L. Cuddy who in Part 4 of his series “The Rockefeller Plan” linked the assumption that David Rockefeller was responsible for dismissing Khrushchev to a lecture by his brother Nelson Rockefeller:

Nelson Rockefeller delivered a series of lectures in 1962 titled The Future of Federalism, in which he proclaimed that “the nation-state is becoming less and less competent to perform its international political tasks,” and regarding “the true building of a new world order,” he foretold that “sooner perhaps than we may realize,… there will evolve the bases for a federal structure of the free world.” Of course, in this evolution, old-line Communists would have to go. Therefore, shortly after David Rockefeller visited Russia in 1964, Nikita Khrushchev was deposed and sent to Siberia.

None of these authors has produced any evidence that Rockefeller used the meeting to demand that Khrushchev step-down, let alone directed or had contact with the supposed “Council of Elders”, or even the group led by Leonid Brezhnev, that actually did oust him. It is pure supposition. What is arguably worse is that these researchers are not only promoting a story that rests on speculation, but they have ignored a wide range of more recent sources that shed a great deal more light on the significance of the Rockefeller-Khrushchev meeting.

The Missing Links

Contrary to Gonazalez’s claims, information about what was said at the Rockefeller-Khrushchev meeting has long been available. A United Press International report that appeared in the Chicago Tribune (Aug. 1, 1964), for example, noted that Rockefeller and Khrushchev had “talked for more than two hours about Russian debts, American trade, and Sen. Barry Goldwater.” Trade between the US and USSR was a key issue with Rockefeller reporting that Khrushchev was “particularly interested in the increase of trade with the United States and he would like to see substantial improvement.”  The New York Times (Aug.1, 1964), also reported on the meeting, which Rockefeller described, in a discussion with journalists at the Sovetskaya Hotel afterwards, as “relaxed, friendly, even though extremely frank.” According to the Times, Khrushchev had “renewed…his insistence that trade be increased between the Soviet Union and the United States.” The New York Times (Sep. 12, 1964) later reported on Rockefeller’s meeting with President Johnson, where he discussed “what he called an ‘interesting’ conversation with Premier Khrushchev last month.”

A feature article about David Rockefeller which appeared in the New Yorker (Jan. 9, 1965, p.37), and cited by Emanuel Josephson, reported that Rockefeller had for some time apparently heard “hints” that he might be invited to confer with Khrushchev, “should he get to the U.S.S.R.” Sure enough, whilst in Leningrad for a conference – the type of conference is not identified in the article – Rockefeller received an invitation to meet with Khrushchev in Moscow. There Rockefeller experienced “the most intensive conversation I’ve ever had with anyone”. Going for two and a half hours, it was:

…a far-ranging, if inconclusive, colloquy, covering, among other subjects, the capricious attitude of the Russians towards international copyright law, the failure of the Soviet Union to repay its wartime lend-lease obligations, and the possibility of increased trade between the two men’s nations (ibid, p.37).

One of the most comprehensive accounts of the Rockefeller-Khrushchev meeting appeared in Joseph Finder’s book Red Carpet (1983). Finder not only interviewed David Rockefeller and his daughter Neva, but had access to the notes taken by Neva Rockefeller. Finder’s research provided more clarity on the what had happened, observing Rockefeller’s reason for being in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), was not to hold a “Bilderberg conference” but to attend that year’s Dartmouth conference (a conclave for improving US-Soviet relations that replicated the Bilderberg approach by having officials attend as “private citizens”). The meeting came about because Dartmouth founder Norman Cousins, who had planned to meet with Khrushchev (Cousins met with  Khrushchev in April 1963) apparently to convey a message from the White House, had found that he was “to busy.” Cousins “asked Rockefeller to go in his stead” (p.181). Rockefeller duly concurred.

Finder’s account of the lengthy Rockefeller-Khrushchev meeting on July 31, 1964, notes that the plutocrat apparently did convey to Khrushchev a “vague offer of conciliation” from the White House:

“I hope it will be possible for the Chairman and President Johnson to establish closer relations,” Rockefeller said, “—relations of the sort you had with President Kennedy, and which are very useful in times of conflict.” In case Khrushchev had not understood that this was a clear message from the White House, Rockefeller added, “I suspect—and I am speaking with confidence—that this is also in President Johnson’s wishes…” (p.183).

Rockefeller also used the meeting to express his own concerns, particularly about “Soviet incursions” into Latin America with local “Communist parties” utilised to “bring into power governments favouring the Soviet.” A charge Khrushchev angrily denied (p.183). Similar exchanges occurred over Vietnam and Cuba; with Rockefeller suggesting the Soviets were using Cuba as a “base to activate Communist movements in other parts of Latin America.” Such activities could “cripple the United States, [and] weak our position”, according to Rockefeller (p.184).

The biggest issue was, of course, trade; but not between Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Instead the focus was on improving US-Soviet economic relations with Khrushchev advocating “broader ties” between the US and USSR “particularly in the field of trade” (p.185). Oddly enough it was on trade that the issue of Khrushchev’s leadership came up, though not the way Josephson imagined. Rockefeller attributed the poor US-Soviet economic relationship to recent troubles between the countries, but he suggested that “the situation was improving under Khrushchev’s leadership.” Rockefeller apparently revealed that various “knowledgeable people” in the US regarded Khrushchev as “largely responsible for the lessening tension” for which they were “very grateful” (p.185).

Noting that barely two months later Khrushchev would be ousted, Finder considered the personal aspect of this comment to be “intriguing.” But Finder assumes the plutocrat was unaware of Khrushchev’s looming demise:

But Rockefeller, of course, could not have known that Khrushchev’s power was soon to be eclipsed. “He seemed extremely confident,” Rockefeller recalls. “I didn’t get any impression at all that he had any inkling that he might be out two months later” (p.185).

Citing his government contacts, Rockefeller informed Khrushchev that it was likely that the US-Soviet trade relationship could indeed improve (p.185). But this would require the USSR to settle its Lend-Lease debts from the Second World War; a request Khrushchev pointedly refused (p.186).

Finder’s account also covers Rockefeller’s meeting with President Johnson to report in his visit to Moscow, and the memorandum written for Johnson by his National Security Adviser, McGeorge Bundy on the issue. Bundy noted that Rockefeller has passed on a message requesting that Khrushchev “keep out of the election”; the Chairman had apparently agreed to “behave”. Noting the response to the Lend-Lease debt, Bundy concluded that Khrushchev “does not understand the politics of East-West trade in this country” (p.187).

More information came to light in 2001 when the US State Department published the 14th volume of previously classified documents Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Soviet Union.  This volume included a Memorandum of Conversation on Rockefeller’s July 20, 1964 “courtesy call” on Secretary of State Dean Rusk to discuss his forthcoming visit to the USSR to attend the Dartmouth Conference. The memorandum of the meeting noted that after the Dartmouth Conference finished, “it appears likely that Mr. Rockefeller will be granted an audience with Premier Khrushchev.” Rockefeller sought advice from Rusk on the possibilities for increased US-Soviet trade, including making it conditional on the Soviets agreeing to “cut down on the export of political subversion.” Rusk indicated the US was “interested in increased trade” for specific areas, but a major increase was unlikely. Rusk also advised Rockefeller against making any offers of resuming trade subject to conditions.

The same volume also includes a Memorandum of Conversation of a lunch meeting between President Johnson’s National Security Adviser, McGeorge Bundy, and the Soviet Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Dobrynin on September 25, 1964. The Memorandum, though, appears to conflict with the other Memorandum cited by Finder, that Rockefeller had supposedly passed on a White House message warning Khrushchev not to interfere in the US elections. Instead, Bundy had already relayed that message to Khrushchev through Dobrynin in July; but Rockefeller had passed back Khrushchev’s comment that he had been “impressed” by the argument to the same effect put forward by New York Times columnist James ‘Scotty’ Reston.

Further information emerged 2002 with publication of David Rockefeller’s autobiography, Memoirs, which included an extensive account of his visit to the USSR in 1964 and subsequent meeting with Khrushchev. Besides confirming the meeting occurred at the end of the Dartmouth Conference, Rockefeller’s book adds other important details including that the idea for the meeting had actually come from then UN Secretary-General U Thant (p.223). The plutocrat also adds his bemused observations on the Soviet belief that the Rockefeller family was “a cabal, pulling strings behind the scenes to shape American foreign policy.” Rockefeller recalled trying to explain to the Soviets that “I didn’t wield that kind of power, but it was clear they didn’t believe me” (p.225).

Rockefeller’s version, which includes a number of pages of the transcript prepared by his daughter (pp.226-231), largely conforms with Finder’s account, though a number additional titbits provide further illumination. This includes his observation that the interview “captures the thinking of Khrushchev at a crucial time in U.S.-Soviet relations and also a crucial moment in his career: Barely two months later, in mid-October 1964, Khrushchev was deposed” (p.226). Others include: Rockefeller accusing China of “stirring up trouble” in Vietnam (p.228); admitting that his “lessoning of tensions” compliment to Khrushchev was insincere – “diplomatic blandishment, pure and simple” (p.230); and that he believed that despite Khrushchev’s bluster about Soviet self-sufficiency, his country was actually facing “serious economic problems” (p.231). There is of course little in this account that supports claims advanced by Emanuel Josephson that David Rockefeller used the meeting to terminate Khrushchev’s political career…

An Enduring Myth

Considering the above sources, it is difficult to support Gonzalez’s claim some fifty years since the Khrushchev-Rockefeller meeting that “we don’t know what the… subject of the conversation was…” More puzzling, however, is why so many of these researchers, particularly those who have addressed the topic in the last twelve years have ignored all these sources.

Nicholas Hagger’s case is particularly perplexing: his book The Syndicate, which was published in 2004, makes no reference to Rockefeller’s Memoirs in its account of the Khrushchev meeting, even though Rockefeller’s volume is listed in the bibliography (see p.444)! While some might excuse Hagger’s decision not to cite Memoirs, given Rockefeller’s obvious desire to paint himself in a positive light, his failure to either use Finder’s book or critically examine Josephson’s fanciful claims is inexplicable. Instead, by crediting Josephson as “very well informed” (p.326), Hagger defies his supposed requirement for selecting sources for The Syndicate that they “show…impressive research, and a measure of balance and, where possible, impartiality” (p.325). Josephson’s account of the Khrushchev-Rockefeller meeting, which is mostly pure invention, clearly fails that test.

More importantly, rather than relying upon the poorly informed speculation of Josephson and of Allen and Abraham to explain Khrushchev’s downfall, Hagger and for that matter, Mr Gonzalez, could have consulted more recent and comprehensive accounts drawing on the Soviet archives, such as William Taubman’s Khrushchev (2003) or Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali’s Khrushchev’s Cold War (2006). These books provide a more evidence-based explanation for the peaceful ousting of Khrushchev by his former comrades than the sensational, but ultimately unfounded allegation that David Rockefeller was somehow intimately involved all because he once had a meeting with Khrushchev…

That is not to say the Rockefeller-Khrushchev meeting is of no interest. Indeed, for students of what is known as “deep politics”, “parapolitics” and even “State Crimes Against Democracy”, the real significance of the meeting is David Rockefeller’s remarkable access to both Premier Khrushchev and to President Johnson, and that he was clearly not intimidated in his meetings with either of them. The revelation is that the David Rockefeller was a man more than comfortable with the leaders of state power, and who expected to be listened to…

But for those who aspire to research and understand how the power-elite are able to manipulate politics, the Khrushchev-Rockefeller meeting and its supposed outcome of the US plutocrat instigating the Soviet Premier’s downfall is a bad example of such machinations: because the entire story is a fantasy. Again, the lesson is simple: to avoid both embarrassment and misleading readers, check your sources gentlemen!