Georgi Konstantinowitsch Schukow

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Georgi Konstantinowitsch Schukow

Georgy Zhukov ( Russian Георгий Константинович Жуков , in East German transliteration Zhukov , scientific transliteration Georgy Konstantinović Žukov born November 19, jul. / 1. December  1896 greg. In Strelkowka (now part of the city Zhukov ), Ujesd Maloyaroslavets , Gouvernement Kaluga , Russian Empire ; † June 18, 1974 in Moscow ) was Chief of Staff of the Red Army , Marshal of the Soviet Union and from 1955 to 1957 Soviet Minister of Defense .

Zhukov became internationally known for his successful defense of Moscow (1941/42) and as the winner of the Battle of Stalingrad (1942/43) and the Battle of Berlin (1945). On the night of May 9, 1945 in Berlin-Karlshorst, as a representative of the Soviet Union, he accepted the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht .



Zhukov as a non-commissioned officer , 1916
Army General Zhukov (front) and Marshal Tymoshenko during tactical exercises in the Kiev military district, 1940
Zhukov (right) and Marshal Choibalsan during the Battle of Khalkhin-Gol , 1939

The son of strictly Russian Orthodox parents, who grew up in Strelkowka in the Kaluga governorate, Georgi Zhukov attended a church elementary school. From 1908 he did an apprenticeship as a furrier with his uncle in Moscow and prepared himself for his Abitur at an evening secondary school (Городское училище) , which he passed in 1911.

First World War

In 1915 he was drafted into a dragoon regiment of the Imperial Russian Army , hiding his school leaving certificate. He later justified this step by stating that his neighbor in Strelkowka, who was an officer, had served as a deterrent example. For his achievements in the First World War , in which he was mainly active as a reconnaissance officer, he received the Georgs-Kreuzes 3rd and 4th grade. Wounded as a sergeant in 1917, he experienced the first phase of the revolution as a convalescent in his home village and joined the Bolsheviks in mid-1918.

Entry into the Red Army

In the Red Army , Zhukov began as a rifleman, but soon rose to the position of deputy company commander in the Russian Civil War ; In 1919 he was already head of a department. In 1919 he was wounded near Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad , now Volgograd ).

After the suppression of the Tambov peasant uprising , he received his first Soviet award, the Order of the Red Banner , on August 31, 1921 . In May 1929 he was given command of the 39th ( Buzuluk ) cavalry regiment of the 7th ( Samara ) cavalry division. After Zhukov had attended the higher cavalry school in Leningrad in 1924 , he returned to the troops and was given command of the 2nd Brigade of the 7th (Samara) Cavalry Division, which was led by the future Marshal Rokossovsky . In the following year Zhukov was transferred to Moscow, where he served as an assistant to the cavalry inspector Budyonny , a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR . In March 1933 he was given command of the 4th Cavalry Division, which he drove to peak performance, which earned him the Order of Lenin and in July 1937 the command of the 3rd Cavalry Corps. After seven months, Zhukov was appointed commander of the 6th Cossack Corps.

Purges and war against Japan

From 1937 onwards, the Stalinist purges began within the Red Army, which cost some of the officers who were valued by Zhukov both service and lives. At the end of 1938, Zhukov was offered the post of Deputy Commander of the Byelorussian Military District. On June 1, 1939, he was commissioned to take command of the Soviet armed forces (reinforced 57th Special Corps) and the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Army on the Manchurian - Mongolian border. He was supposed to deal a decisive blow to the Japanese 6th Army of the Kwantung Army stationed there , with which there were continual border incidents on the Chalchin Gol .

In the Battle of Chalchin Gol on August 20, 1939, Zhukov carried out the order so successfully that the defeated Japanese were immediately ready to end the conflict in Moscow's favor. Zhukov was awarded the Star of a Hero of the Soviet Union (he received this honor four times in total). When the rank system was reintroduced in May 1940, he was given the rank of Army General . In June 1940, Stalin appointed him commander of the Kiev Special Military District , the largest military district in the country that comprised two armies. Immediately afterwards, on June 28, Zhukov was in command of the non-fighting occupation of the Romanian territories of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina , which the Soviet Union then annexed .

"Great Patriotic War"


Zhukov had about half a year to familiarize himself with the situation when a German deployment against the Soviet Union became more and more apparent. On December 29, 1940 - eleven days after Adolf Hitler had ordered the preparations for Operation Barbarossa , the attack on the Soviet Union , with directive No. 21 - the German diplomat Rudolf von Scheliha briefed the Soviet military attaché in Berlin , General Vasily Tupikov on the content of this directive. Although a deception in the Kremlin has not been ruled out, every measure has been taken to successfully counter such an attack. Zhukov rejects allegations that there were no corresponding plans:

“In reality, of course, there were operational and mobilization plans for the armed forces in the General Staff. They were continuously expanded and continuously corrected, then immediately submitted to the leadership of the state and, after their confirmation, immediately divided among the military districts. "

This representation contradicts the current state of research, which assumes serious errors in the preparation for a German attack on the Red Army - although Josef Stalin was definitely aware of the German war plans through the agent Richard Sorge and other sources.

After a series of war games in which Zhukov had successfully demonstrated the possibility of a Soviet attack on the German sphere of influence, he was appointed Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Minister of Defense by Stalin in February 1941. In this position he was responsible for drawing up the plans for the Soviet deployment on the western borders. Stalin apparently rejected a plan that General Vasilevsky had worked out and that Zhukov and Defense Minister Tymoshenko had supported for a preventive attack on detected German troop masses at the Soviet borders in May.

On the eve of the war, Zhukov and Tymoshenko had to go to Stalin several times to approve measures to increase combat readiness. At the time, Stalin was convinced that he should by no means provoke the Germans in order not to provide a pretext for war. Therefore, he repeatedly postponed even minor decisions, which he later justified to Churchill:

"I expected a month (... postponement ...) and hoped for six."

It was not until the night of June 22, 1941 at 00:30 that the order was given to the troops for full combat readiness.

Start of war and battle for Moscow

Zhukov, October 1941

At the beginning of the war, Zhukov was in Moscow, where, as Commander-in-Chief, he was tasked with coordinating operations on the Southwest Front and the South Front . The largest tank battle to date occurred in the Rovno , Dubno and Lutsk area , when around 700 tanks from German Panzer Group 1 and around 2800 tanks from five mechanized corps on the two Soviet fronts faced each other. Since there was no clear heavyweight formation on the Soviet side, Zhukov lost the battle despite superior forces because of the greater war experience of the German troops and their massive air support. At the end of July he was deposed as Chief of the General Staff and entrusted with the supreme command of the newly formed reserve front.

Zhukov's next assignment was with Jelnja . He had proposed a counter-offensive in this area when a crisis arose near Voronezh that almost led to a falling out with Stalin. According to Dimitri Volkogonov, Stalin replied: “What nonsense you are talking about, our troops cannot even defend themselves”. The offensive at Jelnja is considered to be the first successful offensive by the Red Army. Zhukov was recalled after lengthy fighting in the context of the Kesselschlacht near Smolensk shortly before the encirclement and destruction of his forces. In September 1941 he commanded the Leningrad Front and organized the defense of the city, which at that time was no longer a German target. In doing so, Zhukov did not hesitate to revoke orders that were personally authorized by Stalin. For example, the ships of the Baltic Red Banner Fleet were prepared for self-sinking so that they should not fall into the hands of the Germans. Zhukov, on the other hand, demanded: "If these ships sink, then only in battle". On September 17, 1941, Zhukov issued the Leningrad Front battle order, according to which all commanders, political commissars and soldiers who left the battle line without written permission from the military Soviet of the front should be shot.

On October 10, 1941, during the double battle at Vyazma and Bryansk , he received command of the united western and reserve fronts, but after several armies had already been enclosed, he could no longer prevent their renewed defeat. As a result, he organized the defense of the capital during the Battle of Moscow and led the Western Front in the successful counter-offensive that began on December 6, 1941, which established his military reputation. The General Staff Officer Hans Meier-Welcker wrote about him on January 6, 1942:

“Zhukov, Tymoshenko's successor as Commander in Chief, is doing operations that I must admire. I am following the achievements of the Russian Army with growing astonishment. "


In the spring and summer of 1942, Zhukov commanded the Western Front, which was extremely strong with ten armies. In addition, he was responsible for the Kalininer Front under Army General Konew , who had five armies. Zhukov attacked with these forces from January to August in the area of Rzhev - Sychovka ( Battle of Rzhev ), but was able to achieve only insignificant land gains despite heavy losses. On August 26, 1942, the State Defense Committee appointed Zhukov as Deputy Supreme Commander. This was one of the decisive factors which, combined with other factors such as the increasing quality of Soviet weapons and the associated increasing combat strength of the Red Army, the creation of new large strategic reserves in the hinterland, etc., led to later Soviet victories. In the first half of September he was temporarily a representative of the Stawka at the Stalingrad Front , where he led an offensive against the German 6th Army , which ultimately did not lead to the hoped-for success. Together with the Chief of the General Staff, Colonel General Alexander Wassilewski , he then worked out the preparation for a large-scale encirclement operation at Stalingrad . When this counter-offensive by the Red Army began on November 19, which was expected to enclose seven German divisions, Wassilewski coordinated this operation. Zhukov coordinated the Western Front and Kalininer Front attack of Operation Mars . According to Lieutenant General Pavel Alexejewitsch Sudoplatow, the head of the NKVD intelligence department, this operation was deliberately betrayed to the Germans so that they could concentrate more forces at Rzhev than at Stalingrad. Zhukov never found out. While Wassilewski's attack was a complete success and ushered in the turn of the war, the Red Army in Operation Mars did not achieve its goal of removing the Rzhev bridgehead, but its actions prevented the German high command from withdrawing considerable reinforcements from this section into the Stalingrad area . On the contrary, the Germans had to use four additional armored divisions and one motorized division there to hold the Rzhev-Vyazma deployment area.


Zhukov and Ivan Konev during the Battle of Kursk, 1943

At the beginning of January 1943, Zhukov, together with Voroshilov, was commissioned to coordinate the actions of the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts in Operation Iskra , which aimed to break through the Leningrad blockade in the area of Lake Ladoga . On January 18, the day of the breakthrough, Zhukov became the first Soviet general to be awarded the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union during the war . The two victorious fronts at Stalingrad, the Central Front and the Voronezh Front , advanced far west in the spring of 1943, but suffered heavy losses and had to be replenished. The front arc around Kursk , created by a German counterattack during the Battle of Kharkov , became the target of the German summer offensive . In this ultimately successful battle of the Red Army, in which the German side finally lost the military initiative on the Eastern Front, Zhukov was one of the decision-makers. In particular, Zhukov predicted a massive German attack on the Kursk front arc at an early stage and proposed a defensive strategy in order to go over to the counter-offensive with the reserves provided after the waves of German attacks had been broken. This was achieved with the Belgorod-Kharkov Operation and the Oryol Operation .

From August 1943, Zhukov coordinated the action of the Voronezh and steppe fronts during the Battle of the Dnieper and the liberation of Kiev in November. He then headed the Zhitomir-Berdichev operation .


After the encirclement of a larger German group near Korsun and the severe wounding of Watutin , he was entrusted with the leadership of its 1st Ukrainian Front . In the course of the Proskurov-Czernowitz operation , his troops reached the Carpathian Mountains in April . On April 10, Zhukov was the first to receive this award, the highest Soviet military medal, the Order of Victory .

In the summer of 1944, the Soviet Army achieved great success with the collapse of the German Central Army Group as a result of Operation Bagration . This operation was timed to coincide with the Normandy invasion. Zhukov coordinated the cooperation of the 1st and 2nd Belarusian fronts and later also the 1st Ukrainian front during the Lviv-Sandomierz operation . In August 1944, Zhukov received a special order from the State Defense Committee to fly to the headquarters of the 3rd Ukrainian Front in order to prepare that front for war against Bulgaria.


Zhukov signs the surrender of the German Wehrmacht in Berlin on behalf of the Red Army High Command.
Zhukov in Red Square during the Red Army Victory Parade on June 24, 1945

From November 1944, Zhukov commanded the 1st Belarusian Front , which Rokossovsky had to surrender. With her and the 1st Ukrainian Front, he carried out the Vistula-Oder operation in early 1945 , during which Warsaw was liberated and German Army Group A was broken up. In April and May 1945, with the support of Rokossowski's 2nd Belarusian Front and Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front, he led the battle for Berlin , which was conquered with heavy losses (mainly in tanks). On the night of May 9, Zhukov signed the document on the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces for the Soviet side .

On June 24, 1945, Zhukov, riding the Akhal-Teke white horse Arab, held the victory parade of the Red Army under the eyes of Stalin in Moscow's Red Square and then gave the victory speech from the stands of the Lenin Mausoleum .

post war period

Marshal Zhukov at the military parade in Sverdlovsk , between 1948 and 1950
GDR President Wilhelm Pieck receives Zhukov as head of a Soviet delegation, 1955
Zhukov in 1960

From June 9, 1945 to March 12, 1946, Zhukov represented the Soviet Union in the Allied Control Council as Commander-in-Chief of the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany and Supreme Chief of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) , thus bearing overall responsibility for Soviet occupation policy in the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ). He later became Deputy Minister of Defense and held the newly established post of Commander-in-Chief of the Land Forces . Because Zhukov unabashedly enjoyed his fame and accepted public homage without mentioning Stalin, Stalin became suspicious and in 1946 had seven railway wagons with furniture confiscated, which Zhukov wanted to transport as personal spoil from Germany to the Soviet Union, and demoted him on June 3, 1946 as commander of the Odessa military district . When it turned out that Zhukov's popularity had not suffered any significant damage, Stalin ordered the Minister for State Security in 1948 to have Abakumov , Zhukov's Moscow apartment and his country house searched conspiratorially. There the Chekists found “not a single product of Soviet origin”, but rather large quantities of items stolen from occupied Germany, including golden watches, valuable carpets, furniture and paintings. When a search in Odessa produced the same result, Zhukov had to surrender all of his stolen property, was relieved of his duties and transferred to the Urals military district . After Stalin's death, Zhukov was ordered back and again deputy defense minister and chief of the land forces.

In the power struggle between Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev and Lavrenti Beria , Zhukov intervened in favor of Khrushchev. According to him, it was he who arrested Beria during a meeting in the Kremlin. From then on, Zhukov took Beria's place in the Central Committee of the CPSU .

After Stalin's death, Zhukov tried again to make amends for the lack of pension he had condemned and for the injustice that had been inflicted on captured Red Army soldiers in World War II. Those soldiers too would have remained loyal to the fatherland.

In order to "prove" his conviction of a possible victory in a nuclear war, in an exercise on September 14, 1954, depending on the source, between 45,000 and 50,000 soldiers stormed through the explosion zone of an atomic bomb with the exercise title "Breakthrough of the prepared tactical defense of the enemy with nuclear weapons ". The long-term effects of atom bomb explosions were still unknown at the time and were underestimated in the West too.

On February 9, 1955, Zhukov became Minister of Defense. In this function he was militarily responsible for the illegal intervention of Soviet troops in the Hungarian popular uprising in 1956, but initially spoke out against it when heavy fighting threatened. However, when Imre Nagy began to speak of leaving the Warsaw Pact , he consented to the intervention.

As Khrushchev at the end of the XX. When the CPSU party congress settled in a secret speech with Stalinism and its crimes, this approach met with considerable criticism from high officials of the CPSU who, under the leadership of Molotov , pleaded for Khrushchev's removal the following year . The latter turned to Zhukov for help, who at a crucial meeting in the party's central committee in June 1957 turned the tide by threatening the army to intervene in favor of Khrushchev. From June to October 1957, Zhukov was a member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU . When Khrushchev began a little later to downsize the army and fleet for cost reasons and to establish the strategic nuclear forces as the actual deterrent, Zhukov offered resistance and snubbed the party leader several times. When Khrushchev saw his authority seriously threatened, he took advantage of Zhukov's trip to Yugoslavia and removed him from his ministerial office and the presidium of the CPSU Central Committee on October 26, 1957, and retired a year later.

Marshal Zhukov was married twice and had four daughters. Zhukov died on June 18, 1974 in Moscow at the age of 77. His urn was buried on the Kremlin wall in Moscow.

Social reception by Zhukov


Georgi Zhukov on a Soviet postage stamp
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev laying a wreath at the monument to Zhukov during a state visit

Zhukov was regarded in the Soviet Union and in Mongolia as one of the most successful commanders of the Second World War and was accordingly revered. Zhukov's memoir, which appeared in 1969, has been reprinted 12 times so far, most recently on the sixtieth anniversary of the Battle of Moscow in 2002. In 1980 the asteroid (2132) Zhukov was named after him. In the 1990s, Boris Yeltsin not only had an equestrian statue erected in front of the historical museum in the center of Moscow, he also donated the one-class military Georgi Zhukov order in his honor in 1994.

Marshal of the Soviet Union Alexander Wassilewski in his work Thing for a Whole Life describes GK Zhukov as the greatest military leader in the Great Patriotic War.

Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower in his work Crusade in Europe writes that “the war in Europe ended in victory and no one could win better than Marshal Zhukov”.

Andrei Gromyko in his memoirs compares Marshal Zhukov to the jewel in the crown of the greatest victory of the Soviet people.

Albert Axell in his work "Marshal Zhukov, the one who beat Hitler" claims that Zhukov, like Alexander the Great and Napoleon, is a military genius. Axell also notes that Zhukov is a loyal communist and a patriot.

Major General Sir Francis de Guingand, Chief of Staff to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery , describes Zhukov as a kind person.


In his story "A Hero's Life" is Alexander Solzhenitsyn represents the rise of Georgy Zhukov in the Soviet Union. A key experience locates Solzhenitsyn in the suppression of the peasant uprising of Tambov , where Zhukov 1920/21 as a non-commissioned officer participated. There, Zhukov has appropriated ruthless action as a key quality. Solzhenitsyn depicts Zhukov as a man who is resigned at the end of his life, who is being bullied by the CPSU and who wonders whether he could not have dared to take hold of power himself.

Zhukov is accused by numerous historians of senseless "burning up" of his own troops. Zhukov openly stated that he was indifferent to losses: "When we come across a minefield, our soldiers attack as if it weren't there." In the Vistula-Oder operation and the advance on Berlin , this was allegedly implemented of Stalin's request to be the first allied to move into the imperial capital.

In 1954, Zhukov commanded a nuclear weapon test northwest of Orenburg . He himself observed the explosion from an underground bunker, while 5,000 soldiers had to conduct a training battle and 40,000 soldiers were stationed around 8 kilometers from the epicenter. The number of soldiers killed, injured or damaged in their health is still unknown today.

Historical significance from the author's point of view

The chairman of the Soviet Writers' Union , the fiction and non-fiction writer Vladimir Karpov saw in his 1989 published in the Soviet Union work Маршал Жуков, его соратники и противники в годы войны и мира (Marshal Zhukov, supporters and opponents in war and peace time) the historical significance of Marshal Zhukov in that he, like Field Marshal Mikhail Illarionowitsch Kutuzov in Russia, stopped, drove out and beat a large invading army on its march into the Soviet Union.


  • Memories and Thoughts (Воспоминания и размышления), 1969/1992/2002
  • Воспоминания командующего фронтом. In: Битва за Москву. Московский рабочий, Москва 1966, pp. 55–89, ( online ).

Name bearer

In cities and villages of Russia 190 prospectuses, streets, squares and alleys were named in honor of Marshal of the Soviet Union GK Zhukov. Abroad in Nicaragua, the GK Zhukov Learning Center was opened in April 2013 for training the skilled workers of the land troops.

Honorary citizen (posthumous)



  • Yuri Oserow : Liberation 1969–72
  • Yuri Oserow : The Battle of Moscow 1983-85
  • Yuri Oserow : The Great Army Leader Georgi Zhukov 1995
  • The Great Generals - Georgi Schukow and the Battle of Berlin / Seventh Art Productions, Brighton, England
  • THE GREAT COMMANDERS Part Six: Georgi Zhukov Brian Cox
  • Wolfgang Schoen, Holger Hillesheim, Susanne Stenner, Günter Moritz, Ingeborg Jacobs: Four warlords against Hitler - Georgi K. Shukow: Condemned to victory . tvschoenfilm, D 2001

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Albert Axell: Marshall Zhukov - The Man who beat Hitler , London, 2003 p. 41.
  2. Gabriel Gorodetsky: The Great Deception. Siedler: Berlin 2001, p. 170 f .; David E. Murphy, What Stalin Knew. The Enigma of Barbarossa. Yale University Press: New Haven, London 2005, p. 264.
  3. Zhukov. Memories. P. 209.
  4. Military History Research Office (Ed.): Notes of a General Staff Officer 1939–1942 . Freiburg 1982, p. 147.
  5. Biographical Encyclopedias Federal Foundation Work-up , last viewed on October 18, 2016
  6. The quote from the report of the Chekists in Jörg Baberowski: Burned earth. Stalin's rule of violence , Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-406-63254-9 , p. 478, with proof. There also the following.
  7. Zhukov: A Risky Operation . In: Vladimir F. Nekrassow (Ed.) Beria. Executioner in Stalin's service . Bechtermünz, Augsburg 1999, ISBN 3860471678 . This volume also attributes Beria’s arrest to Kirill Semjonowitsch Moskalenko .
  8. "They must be killed one by one" , Novaya Gazeta, May 7, 2018
  9. Andrei Piontkovsky: Nuclear match , Ekho Moskvy , November 16, 2018
  10. Minor Planet Circ. 5283
  11. Boris Schumatsky: The little thieves of the great victory . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, May 9, 2014, p. 45.
  12. - Four warlords against Hitler ( Memento of the original from January 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /