Monday, April 12, 2010

Great Russian Military Heros Part 3

This is the final post on the three part series on great Russian military leaders
Georgy Konstaninovich Zhukov is one of the former Soviet Union's greatest military heroes, responsible for almost single handily saving the Soviet Union and the Allies from defeat at the hands of the German military.
Early life: Zhukov was born on December 1st 1896 in the Kaluga Oblast region of Russia. Not much is known about his early life except he was born into a poor family. He was apprenticed to work as a furrier in Moscow and was drafted into the Tsar's army when Russia entered the First World War.
Military career: During the First World War Zhukov served with the cavalry where he was awarded the Cross of St. George, Russia's highest military honor, twice. He was promoted to the rank of non-commissioned officer for bravery. After the War he joined the Bolshevik Party where his poverty stricken background helped him immensely. He fought in the Russian Civil War where he recieved the Order of the Red Banner.
By 1930 he was in command of a full brigade. He began to write down theories on a new style of armored warfare, close to the same time the Nazi military leaders were developing ideas for the famed "Blitzkrieg". In 1938 he was placed in charge of the First Russian Mongolian Army in Siberia. Here he was able to conduct a swift and brutal campaign against the advancing Japanese Army in an undeclared Soveit Japanese war that lasted from 1938 to 1939. This culminated in a victory for Zhukov at the battle of Kalikan Gol and is one of the reasons why the Japanese never invaded the Soviet Union. It also helped him to survive Stalin's purges
At the start of the Second World War, known to the Russians as "The Great Patriotic War", he was promoted to a full general but lost his place on the General Staff after falling out with Stalin. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union Zhukov was an outspoken critic of Stalin's stubborn refusal to give ground resulting in massive losses thanks to German encirclements. He was responsible for stopping the German advance on Moscow in 1941 and a year later was assigned to command the entire southern front. His main task was to defend Stalingrad on the Volga River. He succeded in playing the same game the German Army had done and succeded in encircling the Sixth Army in Stalingrad. This was the first Soviet victory of the entire war and afterwards he was appointed command over all Soviet forces. He succeded in lifting the siege of Leninngrad in 1944 and eventually taking Berlin and ending the War.
After the War Zhukov was appointed as commander and military governor of the Soviet Occupation zone in Germany. However, it was thought that he could grow to challenge Stalin's power and he was replaced. Although he did direct the invasion of Hungary in 1956 his reputation made him a serious threat to retain any serious military command. Under Kruschev he was appointed Minister of Defence and Commander in Chief of all ground troops but he was too much of a critic of Krushev's policy and Krushev was paranoid that he was planning a coup. He was stripped of his Party rank and relieved him of his post. Although he was restored to Party favour by Brenshev in 1964 his days as a military officer were over. He died in 1974 and was buried with full military honors.
Legacy: Zhukov was one of the most recognizable leaders of the Second World War and is alomst single handedly responsible for defeating the German invasion of the Soviet Union. He was and still is a hero to the Russian people and even Dwight D. Eisenhower had an immense respect for him. He believed in an aggressive mobile form of warfare similar to the German Blitz and was never afraid to press the attack. The number of medals he obtained during his service is far to long to mention but some of them include the Cross of St. George, the Order of the Red Banner, and the Order of Suvorov (remember him?). In fact he is the only Soviet hero to rightfully earn the Order of the Red Banner four times. A monument stands in his honor in the capital city of Mongolia for his leadership at the Battle of Kalikan Gol. He had a medal named in his honor in 1995 during his 100th birthday. He is also one of the few military leaders who has a planet named after him, discovered by a Soviet astronomer in 1975.

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