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Birthday anniversary of Konstantin Rokossovskiy, Marshal of the Soviet Union

21 December 1896

«If you asked me which generals of the past I would compare Rokossovskiy with,

I would answer without hesitation: with Suvorov and Kutuzov. Generalship of Rokossovskiy

was really unique and it still awaits to be fully researched. Rare streaks of his character were so impressive, that anyone who saw him or spoke to him at least once , would remember these streaks even better and talk about them even more than about the generalship of Konstantin Rokossovskiy”.

Marshal A. E. Golovanov

 

9 (21) December 1896 in Velikiye Luki, Pskov Province, in the family of a railway engineer was born the future commander, Marshal of the Soviet Union, Marshal of Poland Konstantin Rokossovskiy. In 1909, Konstantin graduated from the 4-class city school in Warsaw. His parents died when he was still very young and Konstantin was forced to support himself: before1911 he had been a worker at the hosiery factory in Warsaw, and from 1911 until August 1914 he had worked as a stonemason at a factory in Groytsy, Warsaw Province.

The World War I had drastically changed the fate of Rokossovskiy. He joined one of the Russian regiments, going west via Warsaw. In 1914 he was called to the front. Having earned a Cross of St. George for bravery, ended the war in the rank of a junior non-commissioned officer. In October 1917, Rokossovskiy joined the Red Guard, since 1918 served in the Red Army. For participation in the Civil War he was awarded three Orders of the Red Banner.

After two years of study at the Higher Command Cavalry Courses, Konstantin worked as an instructor in the Cavalry Division, stationed in the Mongolian People's Republic of Korea. In 1929 he fought at the Chinese Eastern Railway. In the same year he attended refresher courses for the higher commanders under the M. V. Frunze Military Academy. From 1930 he commanded first a regiment, then a brigade, and finally a division.

Despite a positive reference, in August 1937 Rokossovsky was arrested on charges of having links with the Japanese and Polish intelligence service. In March 1940, owing to a strong intercession of S. K. Timoshenko and G. K. Zhukov, he was released and his civil rights were fully restored.

In the spring of 1940 Rokossovskiy was sent at the disposal of the Commander of Kiev Military District, Army General Zhukov. In the first weeks of the Great Patriotic War Konstantin commanded the 9th Mechanized Corps in the South-Western Front and was involved in border battles. Since mid-July to 10 August 1941 Rokossovskiy commanded a mobile army group of the Western Front near the town of Yartsevo. Yartsevo group, led by Rokossovskiy, repulsed a powerful attack of fascist forces. From August 1941 to July 1942 Rokossovskiy had been at the head of 16th army, then he commanded Bryansk, Don, Central, Belorussian, 1st Belorussian and 2nd Belorussian Fronts. Participated in Smolensk, Moscow, Stalingrad and Kursk battles.

In the Battle of Kursk (1943) the Central Front of Rokossovskiy defeated the German army of General Model (Operation Kutuzov), near Orel. In honor of this event on August 5, 1943 in Moscow was given the first salute. In the grand Belorussian operation (1944) the 1st Belorussian Front of Rokossovskiy defeated a group of Armies “Center" led by Field Marshal von Bush, and in cooperation with the troops of General I. D. Chernyakhovsky, surrounded up to 30 divisions of the enemy (Operation Bagration). For outstanding service during the Belorusian offensive Rokossovskiy was awarded the title of Marshal of the Soviet Union. At the final stage of the war the 2nd Belorussian Front commanded by Rokossovskiy, took part in the East Prussian, Pomeranian and Berlin operations.

June 24, 1945 Marshal Rokossovskiy commanded the Victory Day parade on the Red Square in Moscow. After the war Konstantin was at the head of the Northern Group of Forces. In late 1949, Stalin sent Rokossovskiy to command the armed forces in Poland, making him the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland. The same year, Rokossovskiy was promoted to the rank of Marshal of Poland. In 1956 Rokossovskiy returned to the USSR and was appointed Deputy Minister of Defense of the USSR. From 1962 he was among the Inspectors General of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR. From October 1961 to August 1968 was a candidate for membership of the Communist Party Central Committee.

Konstantin Rokossovskiy died August 3, 1968 and was buried on the Red Square in Moscow near the Kremlin wall.

Marshal Zhukov recalled: "Rokossovskiy was a very good commander... Not mentioning his rare mental qualities - they are known to everyone who has ever served a little under his command... I can hardly remember a more in-depth, working, hardworking and largely gifted man. Konstantin loved life, loved people. "For heroic deeds committed during the Civil War and the Great Patriotic War, the outstanding Soviet military leader was awarded with 2 gold stars of the Hero of the Soviet Union (07/29/1944, 06/01/1945), 7 Orders of Lenin, the Order of Victory (03/30/1945), the Order of the October Revolution, 6 Orders of the Red Banner, the Order of Suvorov of the 1st class, the Order of Kutuzov of the 1st class, other orders and medals, as well as an honorable weapon - a sword with the golden Arms of the Soviet Union (1968) and with 13foreign awards.

Lit.: Батов П. Маршал Советского Союза Константин Рокоссовский // Полководцы и военачальники Великой Отечественной. Вып. 1. М., 1971; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/bio/commanders1/08.html; Кардашов В. И. Рокоссовский. М., 1980; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/bio/kardashov/index.html; Рокоссовский Константин Константинович [Электронный ресурс] // Герои страны. 2000-2019. URL: http://www.warheroes.ru/hero/hero.asp?Hero_id=357; Рокоссовский К. К. Солдатский долг. М., 1988; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/rokossovsky/index.html; Рубцов Ю. В. «Советский Багратион». Маршал К. К. Рокоссовский (1896-1968) // Новая и новейшая история. 2004. № 6.

From the Presidential library materials:

Victory Day – the holiday of USSR victory over the Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 // On this day. 09 May;

Курская битва: [фрагменты кинохроники / реж. монтажа Т. И. Дьяконова]. СПб., Президентская библиотека, 2010.xx;

The Memory of the Great Victory: collection;

Приказ Верховного Главнокомандующего Генералу армии Черняховскому, Маршалу советского Союза Рокоссовскому // Знамя победы. Красноармейская газета. [Б. м.]. 1944, 4 июля;

Soviet and American troops met at the River Elbe // On this day. 25 April 1945.