Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov (1896-1974)

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Zhukov was commander of the Soviet Union's forces on the Eastern front from the latter half of World War Two and personally commanded the assault on Berlin in 1945. His popularity among the Russian people bred dislike from Stalin but Zhukov survived. He was born of peasant parents near Moscow and at the age of 15 was conscripted into the Tsarist army becoming an NCO before the revolution. He joined the Red Army in 1918 and served as a cavalry commander, formally joining the communist party in 1919. He first gained notice in 1939 with his action against the Japanese on the Manchurian border defeating the Japanese 6th Army with his five armoured brigades.

Later in the war he quickly rose to become deputy Supreme Commander of the Soviet Armed forces and planned the defence of Moscow in 1941. Although his success had much to do with the weather, he showed skill in his counter attack in 1942. During the war Stalin needed him but his popularity at the end of the war was becoming a threat to Stalin and he was removed from occupied Germany and given command of a small military district (Odessa). On Stalin’s death in 1953 he was returned to favour and later in 1955 became minister of defence. He gained political power by supporting Khrushchev against some of his enemies in 1956 but was later charged with undermining the communist parties influence among the armed forces, a disgrace he was not to be forgiven for until the 1970s when he was honoured once more. His military track record as a commander is difficult to judge. He was certainly successful but by the later stages of the war he had so much material at his disposal it would be hard to fail. The death toil was certainly high under his command but to the Russians the end justified the means.

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How to cite this article:Dugdale-Pointon, T (23 November 2005) Zhukov, Georgi Konstantinovich (1896-1974), articles/people_zhukov.html

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