Nikita Krushchev’s Son Still Missing in Action from World War II

Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s son is still considered missing in action. A former chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Directorate for the Memorialization of Soldiers Fallen Defending the Fatherland said that the younger Krushchev’s fighter plane was allegedly shot down in 1943.

“Leonid, the son of Nikita Khrushchev, the former first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union did not return from the front line and is still considered missing in action,” the secretary of the Russian Military Historical Society’s academic board, retired Major General Alexander Kirilin said.

How and where Leonid died is still obscure and controversial. None of his fellow pilots ever stated that they witnessed him being shot down and his neither body nor his plane were ever found. This caused several theories about his loyalties and his death.

Leonid survives the crash in one scenario and collaborates with Nazi Germany. When he was captured at the end of the war, Stalin ordered him to be shot despite Nikita Khrushchev pleading for his life. The theory is that this is part of the reason that Khrushchev later denounced Stalin in the Secret Speech.

Leonid’s granddaughter says that this version of events was, and is, put about by people who want to discredit Nikita, because he denounced Stalin. Some historians allege that, while Soviet files offer no supporting evidence, Leonid Khrushchev’s file was tampered with after the war.

Leonid Khrushchev’s wingmate, V. Zamorina, stated in later years that she saw Leonid’s plane disintegrate but did not report it at the time. Most likely she tried to avoid the possibility of being seen as complicit in the death of the son of a Politburo member.

There is another theory which goes even further. This one says that Leonid was not shot down at all, but instead flew directly to a German airfield. It was rumored that he deserted the front intentionally to avoid being punished for a row and accidental murder.

The Great Patriotic War in Russia and the Eastern Front in Germany, the battle from 1941 to 1945, was a critical aspect of World War II. Anywhere from 8 to 13 million people fought in the region between the Barents Sea and the Black Sea. The Soviet Union had over 25 million people die during that war.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE