Shtern, Grigorii Mikhailovich
Born July 24 (Aug. 6), 1900, in the village of Smela, now a city in Cherkassy Oblast, Ukrainian SSR; died Oct. 28,1941. Soviet military leader; colonel general (1940). Hero of the Soviet Union (Aug. 29, 1939). Member of the CPSU from 1919.
The son of a physician, Shtern graduated from a Gymnasium in 1918 and enlisted in the Red Army in March 1919. Between August 1919 and December 1920 he engaged in political work in the 46th Rifle Division of the Southern Front as military commissar of a regiment and of a brigade and as a worker in the division’s political section. He was military commissar of a regiment, of the headquarters of the 3rd Rifle Division, and of the First Horse Cavalry Corps between 1921 and 1923. Between November 1923 and May 1925, on the Turkestan Front, Shtern took part in the struggle against the Basmachi, serving as military commissar of a cavalry brigade and as commander of special-assignment units of the Khorezm Group of Forces.
Shtern completed advanced courses for higher command personnel at the M. V. Frunze Military Academy in 1926 and graduated from the eastern department of the academy in 1929. Between 1929 and 1936 he carried out particularly important assignments for the people’s commissar for military and naval affairs (from 1934, the people’s commissar of defense of the USSR). During the National Revolutionary War in Spain, Shtern was the chief military adviser for the republican government from January 1937 to April 1938.
Shtern was appointed chief of staff of the Far Eastern Front in May 1938. In August of that year he directed the combat operations of the Soviet forces in the Soviet-Japanese conflict at Lake Khasan. From the autumn of 1938 to June 1939, Shtern commanded the First Red Banner Separate Far Eastern Army. He led a frontline group for the coordination of operations of the Soviet and Mongolian forces in the Soviet-Japanese conflict on the Khalkin-Gol River in August 1939 and commanded the Eighth Army during the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939–40. Shtern served as commander of the Far Eastern Front from January to April 1941 and headed the Air Defense Directorate of the People’s Commissariat of Defense from April to June of that year.
Shtern was a member of the Central Committee of the ACP(B) from 1939 to 1941. Shtern was awarded two Orders of Lenin, three Orders of the Red Banner, and the Order of the Red Star.