• U.S.

Russia: Party Time

2 minute read

The New Year’s Eve party was going full blast in the banquet hall atop the Kremlin’s Palace of Congresses. Communist bigwigs mingled with diplomats, military leaders and stars of the Soviet cultural elite. Everyone was in high spirits, including Soviet ex-President Kliment Voroshilov, 82, who broke into an impromptu jig when the band played a snappy Russian melody. Genial Host Nikita Khrushchev roared his hearty approval.

It was no occasion for disharmonious words; so when the time came for speeches, Nikita waved away the latest 20,000-word attack on his policies by Red China. Every family has troubles, Khrushchev declared, gesturing amiably at the Western diplomats in the crowd. “You just get married and you will soon notice that differences develop.”

As for his differences with the West, Khrushchev hoped that 1963 would solve “urgent problems fraught with new crises,” a bit of doubletalk about Berlin that could fit any eventuality. The first would probably come at next week’s congress of the East German Communist Party, which Khrushchev will attend.

Last week, when the U.S. moved 1,500 infantrymen by highway into the divided city in a routine shift of regiments, there was not a moment of obstructionist delay at the Russian checkpoint. Ready to greet the fresh troops was a new U.S. West Berlin commandant. Major General James H. Polk, 51. Said Polk, in a message to West Berliners: “We are here to stay.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com