If I do not know everything, then I would say that you know nothing about communism; nothing except fear of it.
Nikita Khrushchev, July 24, 1959
Read (and or listen to) the essays on The Kitchen Debate for the questions in your Google Classroom assignment. Then watch the short video on the exchange between Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Premier Nikita Khrushchev and answer questions in your Google Classroom assignment.
Read the favorable and unfavorable comments about the American National Exhibition and look at the twenty-one images to answer the question on your Google Classroom assignment.
Soviet visitors were invited to write down their reactions to the American National Exhibition. Whether the comments marked by USIA officials as “favorable” were genuine is difficult to know, as some of the visitors to Sokolniki Park were volunteers specially prepped by Communist Party officials to publicly challenge American propaganda.
Thank you for the Exhibition. It realizes well its basic aim of improving mutual understanding between our nations. (Unsigned)
The American Exhibition convincingly shows that private enterprise produces more and in stupendous quantities the very best goods in the world. Greetings and best wishes to the cleverest American people. (Illegible, an electrician)...
Okay, Yankees! Some day we will catch up with you in all areas where we lag behind. But in general we wish you well and would like to hear the same from you addressed to us. (Signature illegible)...
I am sixty-four years old and I am very glad I lived until I could personally visit the American National Exhibition for which I thank its initiators from the bottom of my heart. I am a small man and I particularly liked the spirit of the following exhibits: circarama, geodesic dome, and Family of Man. I am also grateful for the pepsi-cola. I thank you twice. (Signature illegible, a pensioner)
There are many beautiful things at your Exhibition-building, machinery, photographs—miracle of miracles—and many other articles. The Exhibition gave us a chance to learn about people and life in America. We thank your President and the organizers of the Exhibition. (University teacher)
Many Soviet visitors wrote negative comments about the American National Exhibition. The themes presented in these selections were commonly repeated, suggesting that at least some visitors were coached beforehand to question the exhibition.
The Exhibition does not give anything to the mind not to the soul. It looks like a haberdashery store. There are more sofa cushions than things which might please us and let us understand what kind of people Americans are. (Illegible)
The Exhibition does not impress me. It resembles an advertisement more than an exhibition of a country which is a leader in the area of technology. An impression that America is more interested in looking after its comforts and amusements rather than after the spiritual enrichment of man is created. (A. Belova)
We think that a country which has existed without wars and destruction for about two centuries could show greater achievements in technology, science, culture and even everyday living. Is it possible to consider kitchens and cosmetics as a cult of man? (A group of visitors)
I expected more and I am disappointed. Is it possible that you think our mental outlook is restricted to everyday living only? There is too little technology. Where is your industry? We expected that the American Exhibition would show something grandiose, something similar to Soviet sputniks... and you Americans want to surprise us with the glitter of your kitchen pans and the fashions which do not appeal to us at all. (Unsigned)...
Having seen the typical house of an American family, I decided to write my impressions. Yes, it is a typical little house of an American family of Browns. Poor little house! During 12 days of your existence more was said about you than any other exhibit here. People began talking about you before you were brought to our country. There you were criticized because you were too expensive and because you were not typical of American conditions where thousands of families were cooped up in slums and it was laughable for them to hear that you were typical. We saw your slums with our own eyes because we lived there several years. We know well the Italian and Latin blocks and Chinatown and even visited Harlem once in daylight, though apprehensively, because we could have been taken for Americans and killed by mistake. So if Americans laughed, and apparently they had reasons, we Russians say: “All this unquestionably is very nice. Thank you, Americans for trying to show us Russians what houses should be built and how to furnish them. Many thanks, but such light-weight buildings do not please us and do not foist on us your manner of living.” (Gorokhova, Davydova, Semnova)
(This lesson is based on this sweet, little book. I encourage you to read it!)