Meretskov, Kirill Afanas’evich
Born May 26 (June 7), 1897, in the village of Nazar’evo, now in Zaraisk Raion, Moscow Oblast; died Dec. 30, 1968, in Moscow. Marshal of the Soviet Union (Oct. 26, 1944); Hero of the Soviet Union (Mar. 21, 1940). Member of the CPSU from 1917. Son of a peasant.
Meretskov joined the Red Army in 1918 and fought in the Civil War of 1918-20 on the Eastern and Southern fronts as detachment commissar and assistant chief of staff of a brigade and a division. Upon graduating from the Military Academy of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army in 1921, he served as chief of staff of the Moscow and Byelorussian military districts and of the Special Red Banner Far Eastern Army, deputy chief of the General Staff, and commander of the troops of the Volga and Leningrad military districts.
In 1936-37, Meretskov fought as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the republican government. In the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939-40 he commanded the Seventh Army, which participated in the breakthrough of the Mannerheim Line along the Vyborg axis. Meretskov was appointed chief of the General Staff in August 1940 and deputy people’s commissar of defense of the USSR in January 1941.
Early in the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), Meretskov commanded the Seventh, Fourth, and Thirty-third armies and directed the routing of the fascist German troops at Tikhvin. He subsequently commanded the troops of the Volkhov Front from December 1941 to February 1944, the troops of the Karelian Front from February to November 1944, and the Primor’e Group of Forces from April 1944. In August 1945, Meretskov commanded the troops of the First Far Eastern Front, which participated in routing the Japanese forces in Manchuria and North Korea.
After the war Meretskov commanded the troops of the Primor’e, Moscow, White Sea, and Northern military districts. He was assistant minister of defense of the USSR in charge of higher military educational institutions in 1955-64 and inspector general of the Ministry of Defense from April 1964. He was candidate member of the Central Committee of the CPSU from 1939 to 1956 and a member of the Central Auditing Commission of the CPSU from 1956 to 1961. Meretskov was a deputy to the first through fifth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He was awarded seven Orders of Lenin, the Order of Victory, the Order of the October Revolution, four Orders of the Red Banner, two Orders of Suvorov First Class, the Order of Kutuzov First Class, and various medals, as well as several orders and medals of foreign states. Meretskov is buried in Red Square at the Kremlin Wall.