Zhukov, Georgii Konstantinovich
Born Nov. 19 (Dec. 1), 1896, in the village of Strelkovka, in present-day Ugodskii Zavod Raion, Kaluga Oblast; died June 18, 1974, in Moscow. Soviet military commander, marshal of the Soviet Union (Jan. 18, 1943), four times Hero of the Soviet Union (Aug. 29, 1939; July 29, 1944; June 1, 1945; Dec. 1, 1956), and Hero of the Mongolian People’s Republic (1969). Member of the CPSU since March 1919.
The son of a poor peasant, Zhukov went to work in 1907, when he was apprenticed to a furrier in Moscow, subsequently becoming a master. He joined the army in 1915 and served in World War I (1914–18) as a junior noncommissioned officer in the cavalry. In October 1918 he joined the Soviet Army, commanding a platoon and a squadron in the Civil War (1918–20). He graduated from cavalry courses in 1920, from advanced training courses for cavalry officers in 1925, and from advanced training courses for higher command personnel in 1930. He commanded a cavalry regiment, brigade, division, and corps and was assistant inspector of the cavalry of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army and deputy commander of the troops of the Byelorussian Special Military District. In 1939, while commanding a special corps and afterward an army groupment, Zhukov led the rout of the Japanese aggressors on the Khalkhin-Gol River in the Mongolian People’s Republic. In June 1940 he assumed command of the troops of the Kiev Special Military District. Between the end of January and July 30, 1941, he was chief of the General Staff and deputy people’s commissar of defense of the USSR.
At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), Zhukov was commander of the troops of the Reserve Front (from August to September 1941) and of the Leningrad Front (from September to October 1941). During the defense of Moscow and the defeat of the fascist German troops in the Battle of Moscow (1941–42), he commanded the troops of the Western Front (from Oct. 10, 1941, to August 1942). In August 1942 he was appointed first deputy people’s commissar of defense of the USSR and deputy supreme commander in chief.
Zhukov participated in drawing up the plans of the major operations. On the instructions of the Supreme Command he coordinated the actions of the fronts in the defeat of the fascist German troops in the Battle of Stalingrad, and he coordinated the Volkhov and Leningrad fronts in lifting the siege of Leningrad (1943); he also coordinated the actions of the Central, Voronezh, and Steppe fronts during the rout of the enemy in the Battle of Kursk of 1943. From March to May 1944, as commander of the troops of the First Ukrainian Front, Zhukov directed operations for liberating the Rightbank Ukraine. From June to November 1944 he coordinated the actions of the First and Second Byelorussian fronts in the liberation of Byelorussia. From November 1944 to May 1945 he commanded the troops of the First Byelorussian Front, which, jointly with the troops of the First Ukrainian and Second Byelorussian fronts, carried out the Vistula-Oder Operation, afterward defeating the Berlin grouping of the fascist German troops and capturing Berlin. On behalf of and on the instructions of the Supreme Command, Zhukov accepted the surrender of fascist Germany in Karlshorst near Berlin on May 8, 1945.
After the war Zhukov was commander in chief of the Soviet Troop Group in Germany and head of the Soviet Administration (from June 1945 to March 1946), as well as commander in chief of the Ground Troops and deputy minister of the armed forces (from March to June 1946). From 1946 to 1953 he commanded the troops of the Odessa and Ural military districts. In March 1953 he was appointed first deputy minister of defense of the USSR and in February 1955 minister of defense, a post he held until October 1957. He retired in March 1958.
Zhukov was a candidate member of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1941-46 and again in 1952–53 and a member in 1953–56. In 1956–57 he was a candidate member and member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU. He was also a deputy to the first through fourth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.
Zhukov has been awarded six Orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, two Orders of Victory, three Orders of the Red Banner, two Orders of Suvorov First Class, the Honorary Arms Award, an order of the Tuva Republic, 20 foreign orders, and many medals. He was buried in Red Square at the Kremlin Wall.