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Zakharov, Matvei Vasil’evich
Born Aug. 5 (17), 1898, in the village of Voilovo, present-day Staritsa Raion, Kalinin Oblast; died Jan. 31, 1972, in Moscow. Marshal of the Soviet Union (1959); twice Hero of the Soviet Union (Sept. 8, 1945, and Sept. 22, 1971); Hero of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (Apr. 30, 1970). Member of the CPSU from 1917. Son of a peasant; worked as a fitter in Petrograd.
Zakharov joined the Red Guard in 1917 and participated in the storming of the Winter Palace. He joined the Red Army in 1918 and fought in the Civil War (1918–20) on the Southern Front, holding the positions of battery and artillery battalion commander, chief of the division artillery supply, and assistant chief of staff of a brigade. He graduated from the Second Petrograd Artillery Courses in 1918, from the Staff Service Higher School in 1919, from the Frunze Military Academy in 1928, from the department of operations of the same academy in 1933, and from the Military Academy of the General Staff in 1937. He was chief of staff of the Leningrad Military District from 1937 to 1938, assistant chief of the General Staff from 1938 to 1940, and was appointed chief of staff of the Odessa Military District in 1940. Zakharov served in the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) as chief of staff of the Ninth Army and then chief of staff of the chief command of the Northwestern Axis (from June to August 1941); he was also deputy chief of the Main Directorate of the Rear (from August to December 1941) and chief of staff of the Kalinin Front (from January 1942 to April 1943), of the Reserves and Steppe Fronts (from April to October 1943), of the Second Ukrainian Front (from October 1943 to June 1945), and of the Transbaikal Front (from July to September 1945). Zakharov participated in the defense of Leningrad; in the battles of Moscow and Kursk; in the liberation of the Ukraine, Rumania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Austria; and in the defeat of the Japanese Kwangtung Army.
After the war Zakharov served as chief of the Military Academy of the General Staff (1945–49, 1963–64), deputy chief of the General Staff (1949–52), chief inspector of the Soviet Army (1952–53), and commander of the troops of the Leningrad Military District (1953–57). He was also commander in chief of the Soviet Group of Forces in Germany from 1957 to 1960 and chief of the General Staff and first deputy minister of defense of the USSR (April 1960-March 1963 and November 1964-September 1971). He was a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU from 1961 and a deputy to the fourth through eighth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He was awarded five Orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, four Orders of the Red Banner, two Orders of Suvorov First Class, two Orders of Kutuzov First Class, the Order of Bogdan Khmel’nitskii First Class, the Order of the Red Star, the Weapon of Honor, 19 foreign orders, and various medals. He is buried on Red Square at the Kremlin wall.