Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Honored Allies Wednesday: Konstantin K. Rokossovsky (USSR)


"He was a Soviet and Polish officer who became Marshal of the Soviet Union, Marshal of Poland, and served as Poland's Defence Minister from 1949 until his removal in 1956 during the Polish October.  He became one of the most prominent Red Army commanders of World War II.  Born in Warsaw (in present-day Poland; then part of the Russian Empire, Rokossovsky served (1914-1917) in the Imperial Russian Army during World War I.  In 1917 he joined the Red Guards and in 1918 the newly-formed Red Army; he fought with great distinction during the Russian Civil War of 1917-1922.  Rokossovsky held senior commands until 1937 when he fell victim to Joseph Stalin's Great Purge, during which he was branded a traitor, imprisoned and probably tortured.  After Soviet failures in the Winter War of 1940-1941, Rokossovsky was reinstated due to an urgent need for experienced officers.  Following Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Rokossovsky played key roles in the defense of Moscow (1941-1942) and the counter-offensives at Stalingrad (1942-1943) and Kursk (1943).  He was instrumental in planning and executing part of Operation Bagration (1944)—one of the most decisive Red Army successes of the war—for which he was made a Marshal of the Soviet Union.  After the war, Rokossovsky became Defence Minister and deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers in the newly-established Polish People's Republic.  Forced out of office in Poland 1956 after Władysław Gomułka became the leader of Poland, Rokossovsky then returned to the Soviet Union, where he lived out the rest of his life until his death in 1968."

Another honored ally,

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