Rokossovskii, Konstantin Konstantinovich
Born Dec. 9 (21), 1896, in the city of Velikie Luki, now in Pskov Oblast; died Aug. 3, 1968, in Moscow. Soviet military leader; marshal of the Soviet Union (1944). Twice hero of the Soviet Union (July 29, 1944, and June 1, 1945). Member of the CPSU from 1919. Son of a railroad engineer.
Rokossovskii joined the army in 1914 and fought in World War I as a noncommissioned officer. In October 1917 he joined the Red Guards and later the Red Army. He fought in the Civil War of 1918–20 as commander of a horse cavalry troop, a detached horse cavalry battalion, and a detached horse cavalry regiment. He graduated from the Advanced Cavalry Training Courses for the Command Staff in 1925 and the Advanced Training Courses for the Higher Command Staff at the M. V. Frunze Academy in 1929. He took part in the fighting on the Chinese Ch’angch’un Railway as commander and commissar of the 5th Detached Kuban’ Horse Cavalry Brigade.
During the Great Patriotic War, Rokossovskii commanded the IX Mechanized Corps (until July 11, 1941) and the Sixteenth Army on the Western Front (August 1941–July 1942). He also commanded the Briansk Front (July-September 1942), Don Front (September 1942–February 1943), Central Front (February-October 1943), Byelorussian Front (October 1943–February 1944), First Byelorussian Front (February-November 1944), and Second Byelorussian Front (November 1944 until the end of the war). Forces under Rokossovskii’s command fought in the battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kursk and in the Byelorussian, East Prussian, Eastern Pomeranian, and Berlin operations.
On June 24, 1945, Rokossovskii commanded the Victory Parade in Moscow. Between 1945 and 1949 he was commander in chief of the Northern Group of Forces. In October 1949, at the request of the government of the Polish People’s Republic and with the authorization of the Soviet government, Rokossovskii went to Poland and was appointed minister of national defense and deputy chairman of the Polish Council of Ministers; he was given the military rank of marshall of Poland. Rokossovskii was elected a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party and a deputy to the Sejm.
In 1956, Rokossovskii returned to the USSR. He was deputy minister of defense of the USSR from November 1956 to June 1957; chief inspector and deputy minister of defense of the USSR from July to October 1957; commander of the troops of the Transcaucasian Military District in 1957–58; deputy minister of defense and chief inspector of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR from January 1958 to April 1962; and inspector general of the Group of Inspectors General of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR from April 1962.
From 1961 to 1968, Rokossovskii was a candidate member of the Central Committee of the CPSU. He was a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR at the second and fifth through seventh convocations. Rokossovskii was awarded seven Orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, the Order of Victory, six Orders of the Red Banner, the Order of Suvorov First Class, the Order of Kutuzov First Class, various medals, and many foreign orders and medals. He is buried in Red Square by the Kremlin Wall.