“Of all major military commanders who with a lighting speed appeared in the pre-war years he was without a doubt the brightest and most talented personality... Not only did he possess a military talent, which was crucial during the war ordeals for becoming a commander, but also tough character, ruthlessness to irresponsible people... If he achieved anything, he was not the one to reach the goal, as they say “with a slow pace, timid zigzag". In such cases he made his was directly”.
Marshal of the Soviet Union I. Kh. Bagramyan
On November 19 (December 1) 1896 in the village Strelkovka, Maloyaroslavets district, Kaluga oblast (today Zhukovsky district of Kaluga Oblast) in a poverty-stricken family was born Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov.
In 1906 Georgy with a “school testimonial of good conduct and progress” (certificate with honours) graduated from the Velichkovo three-year parish school. At the age of eleven the boy was sent to study to a Moscow furrier, later Zhukov enrolled for evening training courses and passed exams for a complete course of the urban school.
Military carrier of Georgy Konstantinovich began during the World War I. In August 1915 in the town of Maloyaroslavets he was enlisted in the army to the 5th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, which was located in the town Balakleya, Kharkov governorate. For distinguishing himself in actions and taking a German officer prisoner Zhukov was twice awarded the highest military distinction of the Russian Empire — the St. George Cross.
In 1918 Georgy Zhukov joined the Red Army and finished the Civil War in the position of the commander of the squadron. From 1923 to 1930 he commanded the Cavalry Regiment. Later he was assigned as an assistant of the Red Army cavalry’s inspector, was a commander of the 4th Cavalry Division, 3rd and 6th Cavalry Corps. It was already then that Zhukov proved to be a talented organizer of soldiers’ training, and an ideal commander. Units headed by him achieved high performance in combat and political training.
In July 1938 Zhukov became a Cavalry Deputy Commander of the army of the Belorussian Special military district. While next summer he assumed the command of 57th Special Corps, and then 1st Soviet Army Group in Mongolia. The first star of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the star of the Hero of the Mongolian People’s Republic Zhukov received on August 29 1939 for the successful control of operations aimed at defeat of Japanese invaders on the river Khalkhyn Gol (Mongolia). In the battles on the Khalkhyn Gol river Zhukov for the first time widely used tank units to encircle and destroy the enemy.
During the Great Patriotic War Zhukov was the member of the General Staff, Deputy Supreme Commander-in-Chief, and commanded the fronts. On January 18 1943 he became the first during the war to receive the rank of the Marshal of the Soviet Union. Under Zhukov’s command armies of the Leningrad Front jointly with the Baltic Front stopped the advance of the Army Group “North” to Leningrad in September 1941. Being a commander, the army of the Western Front inflicted a defeat on Army Group “Center” near Moscow (the Moscow battle of 1941-1942) and dispelled the myths on the invincibility of the Nazi Army. Then Zhukov coordinated actions of Fronts by Stalingrad (Operation “Uranus” — 1942), in the Operation “Iskra” during the lift of the Leningrad Siege (1943), in the Battle of Kursk (summer 1943).
With the name of Marshal Zhukov are also connected victories in Korsun-Shevchenkovsky offensive, liberation of the Right-Bank Ukraine, Operation “Bagration” (in Belorussia), where “Vaterland Line” was broken and defeated the Army Group “Center”. At the final stage of the war the 1st Belorussian Front, commanded by Marshal Zhukov, captured Warsaw, destroyed the Army Group “A” during the Vistula-Oder offensive and triumphantly finished the war by a grandiose Battle in Berlin.
On May 8 1945 in Karlshorst (Berlin) the commander was present when Hitler’s Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signed an Instrument on Surrender of the Nazi Germany. On June 5 1945 American General D. Eisenhower awarded G.K. Zhukov the highest military order of the USA “Legion of Merit” of the Chief Commander Decree. Later in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate the British Field Marshal Montgomery awarded Zhukov the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath of the 1st class with a star and a crimson ribbon. On June 24 1945 Marshal Zhukov inspected the Victory Parade in Red Square in Moscow.
In March 1946 Zhukov was appointed the Commander-in-Chief of Land Forces and Deputy Defense Minister of the Soviet Union. Several months later Georgy Konstantinovich was accused of exaggeration of his own role in the war and appropriation of trophies, dismissed and appointed a commander of the armies of Odessa, and later Ural military districts.
After the death of J. Stalin in March 1953 Zhukov again took top posts in the army, becoming a Deputy Defense Minister of the USSR, and in 1955 — the Defense Minister. In 1957 he was removed from the position of the Defense Minister and forced to retire.
On June 18 1974 Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov passed away and was buried in Moscow in the Red Square at the Kremlin Wall.
A renowned Soviet military commander was four times awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union. He received 6 Orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, 3 Orders of the Red Banner, 2 Orders of Suvorov of the 1st class; the Order of Victory (twice), the Honorary weapon with a golden image of the State Emblem of the USSR, as well as 15 medals of the USSR and 17 orders and medals of foreign states.
Lit.: Андреев-Угранский А. Б. Маршал Победы. Калуга, 2002; Воротников М. Ф. Г. К. Жуков на Халхин-Голе. Омск, 1989; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/vorotnikov_mf/index.html; Гареев М. А. Маршал Жуков. Величие и уникальность полководческого искусства. Уфа, 1996; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:http://militera.lib.ru/bio/gareev/index.html; Жуков Г. К. Воспоминания и размышления. В 2 т. М., 2002; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/zhukov1/index.html; Исаев А. Георгий Жуков. М., 2006; Карпов В. В. Маршал Жуков: Опала. М., 1994; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/bio/karpov3/index.html; Соколов Б. В. Неизвестный Жуков: портрет без ретуши в зеркале эпохи. 2000; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:http://militera.lib.ru/research/sokolov2/index.html; Яковлев Н. Н. Маршал Жуков (Страницы жизни) // Роман-Газета, 1986; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:http://militera.lib.ru/bio/yakovlev_nn/index.html.
From the Presidential library materials:
Декларация о поражении Германии и взятии на себя верховной власти в отношении Германии правительствами Союза Советских Социалистических Республик, Соединенного Королевства и Соединенных Штатов Америки и Временным правительством Французской республики. Берлин, 5 июня 1945;
Генерал Дуайт Д. Эйзенхауэр, адмирал сэр Гарольд М. Берроу, главнокомандующий союзными военно-морскими силами в Европе и маршал Григорий Жуков, заместитель главнокомандующего Советских вооруженных сил, в штабе Главного командования союзных сил. Правообладатель – генерал-лейтенант О. Понтюхов, переводчик. Фотография армии США;