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Semyon Konstantinovich Timoshenko

Semyon Konstantinovich Timoshenko was a Soviet general who helped the Red Army withstand German forces during the early part of the Great Patriotic War. Timoshenko was born February 18 [February 6, Old Style], 1895, in the village Furmanka Akkerman county province of Bessarabia (now Furmanivka Kiliya district of Odessa region of Ukraine) in a peasant family Konstantin Gavrilovic Tymoshenko (d. 1925).

Having fought in World War I and the Russian Civil War, Timoshenko held several regional military commands during the 1930s. Named a marshal of the Soviet Union and commissar for defense in May 1940, he worked to upgrade military training and tactical planning as well as to improve Soviet forces' preparedness for a defense against German invasion.

He held a succession of important commands during World War II. In the years of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), was member of the Supreme Command Headquarters (the 'Stavka'), Deputy People's Commissar of Defence of the USSR, Commander-in-Chief of the Western and South-Western sectors and, concurrently, commander of the Western and South-Western fronts. Later commanded the troops on the Stalingrad and North-Western fronts. He took part in devising and conducting a number of major military operations. From 1943 - representative of the 'Stavka' on the fronts. Twice Hero of the Soviet Union, he was awarded the highest military order of Victory, many other orders and medals and ceremonial weapons.

In December 1914 he was drafted into the Czar's army. In 1915 he graduated from the regimental machine-gun, and a model school. He participated in the Great War a a machine gunner in the composition of the 4th Cavalry Division in the Southwest and West fronts. He was awarded for his bravery crosses of St. George (the soldier "Egor") three degrees. He was arrested after he struck an officer and was put on trial.

In the Red Army from 1918 he commanded a platoon, squadron. In August 1918 at the head of a cavalry regiment he participated in the defense of Tsaritsyn , where he met with Stalin. Since November, 1918 he was commander of the Cavalry Brigade (June 1919 - in the case of SM Budyonny). He became a member of the RCP(B) with 1919. In November 1919 to August 1920 he was the commander of the 6th Cavalry, and from August 1920 to October 1921, he comanded the 4th Cavalry Division 1st Cavalry. He was wounded five times, but did not leave the front. For military exploits during the Civil War, he was awarded three Orders of the Red Banner and the Honorary revolutionary weapon.

Timoshenko graduated from the Higher Military Academic Courses in 1922 and 1927, was rated the top commanders at the Military Political Academy named after NG Tolmachev in 1930. He commanded the 3rd and the 6th Cavalry Corps. Since August 1933 he was Deputy Commander of the Belarusian with September 1935 the Kiev military district. Since June 1937 - Commander of the North Caucasus, from September 1937 - Kharkov military districts. February 8, 1938 appointed commander of the Kiev military district with the assignment of rank commander of the 1st rank. During the Polish campaign in 1939 he commanded the Ukrainian front.

In mid-1937 the armed forces had been struck by the Great Purge. The purge and consequent closer supervision of the military resulted in the re-established equality of the political commissars with the commanding personnel in the military. This setting up of Communist to watch Communist in command positions (at this time almost 90 percent of the higher-ranking officers were Party members) was one of the anomalies brought about by the struggle within the Party and by the purge. It was not sufficient to be a Communist; it became necessary to be a staunch follower of Stalin.

In the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940 to 7 January 1940 he was in command of the North-Western Front, whose troops carried out a breakthrough of the "Mannerheim Line". In January 1940 during the Russo-Finnish War, he was placed in command of faltering Soviet forces, and by March he had forced the Finns to sue for peace. Soviet failures during the winter offensives in Finland revealed the Red Army's unpreparedness for war. The shortcomings of dual command showed up, however, in the Finnish campaign and brought back unity of command to the military units.

The title of Hero of the Soviet Union with the award of the Order of Lenin and medal "Gold Star" Army Commander 1st Rank S.Timoshenko was awarded March 21, 1940 for "exemplary performance of command assignments and for displaying courage and heroism."

On 07 May 1940 he was appointed People's Commissar of Defence of the USSR with the assignment of higher rank - Marshal of the Soviet Union. Marshal Timoshenko called for the abolition of the political commissars, and this move was carried out on 12 August 1940. The political commissar now became an assistant commander for political affairs, subordinate to the unit military commander A few years later, in order to enhance officer prestige, the military salute was reintroduced, new uniforms were adopted for the officers, and stricter standards of discipline were established.

Timoshenko, at a military conference, 31 December 1940, fully articulated mobile concepts of 1936, stating, "The mobile group in front offensive operations is called upon to perform the mission of creating conditions for developing tactical success into operational, and sometimes into operational-strategic."

As People's Commissar of Defense, Timoshenko spent much time working to improve the combat training of troops, their reorganization, technical re-equipment, the training of new personnel (required due to a significant increase in the strength of the army), which has not been completed due to the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War.

At a conference 02 February 1941, when the German Army's operation order were being discussed, General Halder estimated that 100 infantry, 25 cavalry, and 30 mechanized Russian divisions would oppose the German invasion. The average Russianinfantry division had direct armored support, but the tanks were of poor quality. Among Russian leaders only Timoshenko was outstanding.

The largest Soviet mistake was that the military leadership was very late in issuing orders to put the troops in the border districts on alert. This was issued to the troops only when it was virtually impossible to do anything. S.K. Timoshenko and Zhukov repeatedly proposed to I.V.Stalin that the troops in the border districts be put on alert. But their proposals were not taken into account and caused irritation.

Thus, in mid-June 1941, S.K. Timoshenko and G.K. Zhukov were with Stalin. To the proposal to bring the troops in the border districts to a full alert, Stalin replied: "Are you proposing to conduct a mobilization in the nation, to muster the troops now and more them toward the western frontiers? This is war! Do you two understand this or not?!"

At the beginning of the War on 23 June 1941, in the center the most striking gains were achieved by the Germans. There Marshal Timoshenko's Western Theater opposed Von Bock with two fronts, the Bryansk and Western Fronts, plus a Reserve Front building up behind Moscow. In the first five days, Guderian's 2d Panzer Group and Hoth's 3d Panzer Group advanced 280 miles to surround and invest Minsk; 40 Soviet divisions with 323,000 troops, 3000 tanks, and 1800 guns went into the bag in the Bialystok-Minsk pocket.

Day-by-day decisions at the Stavka were made on the basis of the reports of the General Staff. These were made orally, usually by the Chief of Staff or the acting Chief (Antonov), who was accompanied by the Chief of the Operations Directorate. Stalin demanded the strictest accuracy in these reports. Usually at these late night sessions, some members of the Politburo were present, as were the members of the Stavka - Timoshenko, Zhukov, Molotov, Voroshilov, Budennyy, and N.G.Kuznetsov who were, in addition to Stalin, named to the Stavka on 23 June 1941.

However, as recalled after the war, Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union N. Kuznetsov, "The first meeting of the High Command of the Armed Forces in June passed without Stalin. Chairmanship of the USSR People's Commissar of Defense Marshal by Timoshenko was only nominal. As a member, I had to attend only one of these meetings, but it was easy to notice: the People's Commissar of Defense was not prepared for that post, which he held.... The functions of each are not clear.... People that were included in its composition were absolutely not going to submit to the People's Commissar of Defense. They demanded from him the reports, information, even a report of his activities. Timoshenko and G. Zhukov reported on the situation on the land front ..."

The two-tier command system was impossible. By the beginning of July the incorrectness of the system and the perilous nature of the delays had become clear to Stalin himself. On 02 July 1941, in connection with the catastrophic developments in the central sector of the front (Battle of Bialystok-Minsk), Tymoshenko was appointed commander of the Western Front (Front Commander was 2-19 July and 30 July-12 September 1941).

On July 16, 1941, the 29-year-old head of the Kiev Military District OO, Anatolii Mikheev, denounced NKO Commissar Timoshenko, pointing to Timoshenko's connection with the previously executed military leaders. Timoshenko was not arrested, but on July 19, 1941, Stalin himself became NKO Commissar, while Timoshenko was demoted to a post as Stalin's deputy. The same day Mikheev was made head of the 3rd Department of the Southwestern Front, and two months later he was killed in action while trying to break through a Nazi encirclement.

On July 10, 1941, Timoshneko was given the General Command of the Western direction (and remained commander in chief before the abolition of the High Command of 10 September 1941).

After Timoshenko was appointed commander of the Western Sector, Stalin assumed the functions of a Supreme Commander in Chief. With the removal of the intermediary link our work gradually became more normal and more efficient. Besides that, the state of shock in which the Soviets had been for the first ten days of the war had somewhat eased.

Once Timoshneko assumed command of the Western Front, he tried to crush the offensive German mobile divisions for this purpose were allocated the 5th and 7th Mechanized Corps. As a result, mechanized corps were lost in the not very successful counterattack in the Senno and Lepel.

On 10 July 1941, Hoth and Guderian crossed the Dnepr River, headed for Smolensk against thrown-together Soviet forces competently led by Semyon Timoshenko. By 15 July, Hoths tanks, looping north, had reached the outskirts of Smolensk and brought the Smolensk-Moscow highway under fire. Guderian, taking a southern approach, found himself hampered by the stubborn resistance of encircled Soviets in the city of Mogilev and persistent counterattacks on his right flank. Guderians tanks and motorized units lacked infantry, and so failed to close the ring.

Soviet commanders from division to front level were arrested and shot. Divisions by the dozen were ground to powder. Timoshenko reported to Stalin on 16 July 1941 that "We have no trained forces of adequate strength covering the Vyazma-Moscow axis; the main deficiency--no tanks."

On July 19 1941, Stalin replaced Tymoshenko as People's Commissar of Defence of the USSR, and created GHQ under Stalin. Tymoshenko remained Deputy Commissar of Defense of the USSR (up to September 1941).

The Battle of Smolensk in July-September 1941, the troops of the Western Front suffered heavy losses, but to persevere in the battle, German troops pinned down and allowed them to go on the offensive in the Moscow area.

On 06 September 1941 Hitler issued a new directive based on recommen-dations made by the Army High Command. The prerequisites for adecisive offensive existed in the Army Group Center area. Only after the bulk of Timoshenko's forces had been annihilated were the attack forces to launch a pursuit in the direction of Moscow along a front extending from the Oka River on the right to the upper Volga on the left.

During the Kiev battle, 13 of September 1941, Timoshenko was appointed commander of the troops of the South-West direction, succeeding Marshal S. M. Budyonny, who insisted on leaving Kiev. First, Tymoshenko, following the Bids, demanded to hold Kiev, but soon understood the situation and agreed with the staff at the front (VI Tupikova) to leave Kiev. But time was lost, most of the South-Western Front was surrounded, the management front, trying to get out of the environment, was destroyed.

On September 30 1941, Tymoshenko became head of the South-Western Front defending the southern flank of the Soviet-German front. At the end of November 1941 Tymoshenko commanded the counter-offensive of the Soviet troops near Rostov-on-Don. November 28 the city was taken, that was one of the first victories of the Red Army in 1941. In December 1941 - January 1942, he oversaw the Kursk Oboyan offensive.

In May 1942 Tymoshenko led the Kharkov operation, which resulted in a large group of Red Army suffered a crushing defeat. As a result, in the environment near Kharkov there were taken prisoner more than 200 thousand soldiers and officers of the Red Army, which was one of the reasons for the future difficult situation at Stalingrad and the Caucasus.

Tymoshenko survived and escaped captivity. In July 1942, Tymoshenko was appointed commander of the Stalingrad front.

Since October 1942 he commanded the troops of the North-Western Front. In this role, he spent two offensives in the implementation of the plan "Polar Star" - Demyansk operation and Starorusskaya operation. March 13, Marshal Timoshenko was removed from his post as commander of the North-Western Front. It is believed that due to the failure of the operation "Polar Star" Tymoshenko was subjected to disgrace, after which he no longer trusted the command of the front during the Great Patriotic War. From March 1943 until the end of the war, he was the representative of the Supreme Command and coordinated the actions of a number of fronts, participated in the design and implementation of certain operations (Iasi-Kishinev, etc.).

In July 1941, discussing with Stalin the actions of the Western Front in the Battle of Smolensk, G. Zhukov, while General of the Army and Chief of the General Staff, praised the military leadership skills ofTimoshenko: " During the battle of Smolensk troops learned well, I saw what they can do. He did everything he could do in his place, and almost a month to hold the enemy in the Smolensk region. I think that no one else would have done no more. Troops believe Tymoshenko, and this is important." But in official documents he was strongly criticized it. And after the war in an interview, Khrushchev directly accused Tymoshenko of leading the Germans to Stalingrad and the Caucasus. v After the war, he commanded troops Baranovichi (March 1946 - Belarusian), since June 1946 - South Ural, from March 1949 - the Belarusian Military District.

In the post-war era, none of the potential successors to Stalin looked to establish a power base including the army because of the fear of bonapartism that this would invoke. But Timoshenko, along with Marshals Zhukov and Moskalenko, played a decisive in the downfall of Beria at the close of the Stalin era. In the downfall of Beria the military would have its political say in the end, affecting the transition of the regime.

From April 1960 he was in the Group of Inspectors General of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR. The second "Gold Star" Marshal Timoshenko was awarded 18 February 1965 for services to the country and the Armed Forces of the USSR, on his 70th birthday. He was a Member of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) in the years 1939-1952, a candidate member of the CPSU Central Committee in 1952-1970 years. He was Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR 1-7-th convocation. Member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1938-1940 years. In 1962-1970 years he chaired the Soviet Committee of War Veterans.

Died 31 on March 1970. He was buried on April 3 at the Red Square in the Kremlin wall.

His 1st wife was Ekaterina Leonova Svyatoslavovna. Their daughter - Catherine (21 December 1923 - 12 of June 1988) - was the wife of Vasily Stalin, the son of I.Stalin from 1946 to 1949. His 2nd wife (c 1926) - Anastasia Mikhailovna Zhukovskaya (1904 - 1961), was a teacher from Minsk. Their daughter was Olga (1927 - 2002). Their son Constantine (1930 - 2004), was married to Nellie Chuikova Vasilievna (daughter of Marshal Chuikov).


Russian Empire

  • George Cross 4th degree
  • George Cross 3rd Class
  • George Cross 2nd class


  • Twice Hero of the Soviet Union (03.21.1940, 02.18.1965)
  • Commander of the Order of the "Victory (number 11 - 04.06.1945)
  • Five Orders of Lenin (22.02.1938, 21.03.1940, 21.02.1945, 02.18.1965, 02.18.1970)
  • Order of the October Revolution (02/22/1968)
  • Five Orders of the Red Banner (07.25.1920, 11.05.1921, 22.02.1930, 03.11.1944, 06.11.1947)
  • Three Order of Suvorov 1st degree (09.10.1943, 09.12.1944, 04.27.1945)
  • Honorary revolutionary weapon - that saber with Order of the Red Banner (11/28/1920)
  • Honorary inscribed sword with a gold State Emblem of Soviet Union (02/22/1968)
  • The medal "For the Defense of Leningrad"
  • Medal "For the Defence of Stalingrad"
  • The medal "For the Defense of Kiev"
  • The medal "For Defense of the Caucasus"
  • Medal "For Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945."
  • Anniversary medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945."
  • Medal "For the Victory over Japan"
  • Medal "For the Capture of Budapest"
  • Medal "For the Capture of Vienna"
  • Medal "For the Liberation of Belgrade"
  • Anniversary medal XX years of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army"
  • Jubilee Medal "30 Years of the Soviet Army and Navy"
  • Jubilee Medal "40 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Jubilee Medal "50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Medal "In Commemoration of the 800th Anniversary of Moscow"
  • Medal "In Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of Leningrad"

Foreign awards

  • Order of Tudor Vladimirescu 1 degree (CPP)
  • Order of the White Lion "For Victory" (Czechoslovakia)
  • Golden Order of Partisan Star (Yugoslavia)
  • Medal "30 years of Victory Khalkhin Gol" (MPR)

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