Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov

(1896—1974) Soviet military leader, born in Russia

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(b. 11 Dec. 1896, d. 18 June 1977).

Marshal of the Soviet Union Born in Strelkova (near Moscow), the son of a shoemaker enlisted in the Red Army in 1918 and fought in the Russian Civil War, joining the Bolshevik party in 1919. During the war, he came into close contact with Stalin. A commander of a cavalry regiment by 1923, he continued his steep rise in the military, and in 1933 was put in charge of the elite 4th Cavalry Division. He filled the post of commander of the 3rd Cavalry Corps, whose previous holder had been removed in the Great Purge, and defeated the Japanese in their military adventures into Soviet territory in June 1939. A general in 1940, he became Chief of General Staff in 1941.

A great as well as a ruthless commander, he was responsible for most of the major Red Army operations during World War II. He held Moscow against the German advance, and planned the German defeat at Stalingrad. He went on to lift the siege of Leningrad and inflict a massive defeat on the German army in Belorussia (Belarus). He advanced into Poland and led the Soviet capture of Berlin in April 1945, at a high cost to his own forces. After the war, he was quickly demoted by Stalin, who was unwilling to share the spoils of victory. After Stalin's death, he became deputy minister of defence, and was instrumental in preventing Beria's succession to the leadership. He thus became Minister of Defence and was then crucial in helping Khrushchev defeat the ‘anti‐party group’ coup of Molotov, Malenkov, and Kaganovich in 1957. In return, Khrushchev relieved him of his duties, fearful of his influence.

Subjects: Military History — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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