“Berlin will take us”. As Commissioner Konev was Marshal of the Victory

The commander of the 19th army of the Western front Lieutenant-General Ivan Stepanovich Konev. 1941 © /

Georgy Petrusov

/ RIA Novosti

1 April 1945 in the Kremlin Joseph Stalin discussed with military leaders the topic that has been essential to the end of the war and the future world order. In Moscow received a telegram, which reported: the Anglo-American command is preparing an operation to capture Berlin with the objective to capture it before the red Army.

Ivan Konev, the end of the 1910-ies. Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org


Who will put the final point in the war, depended very much, and not only in symbolic and political terms.

– So who will take Berlin, we or the allies? – asked Stalin.

– Berlin will take us, and take it before the allies!

It’s a bold and confident statement was quite in the spirit of Georgy Zhukov. But said it not him. Promise Stalin gave the commander of the 1st Ukrainian front of Ivan Konev.

They were very similar as commanders contemporaries worked in their leadership styles. As Zhukov, Konev knew how to be tough, sometimes even cruel, and more hot and expansive commander among the marshals of the Victory, perhaps, was not.

Zhukov and Konev were almost contemporaries – Ivan Stepanovich was only a year younger than Georgy. To call from the relationship is simple does not. A bitter rivalry that unfolded between the marshals at the final stage of the war, and continued after the war. And in the end, Konev, who considered himself unjustly bypassed during the battle for Berlin, will put an end to the military career of Zhukov.

Military service called Ivan Konev – the future Marshal of the Soviet Union pic.twitter.com/NftqVGiPUJ

— The first world war (@GreatWarOne) 8 April 2016

Comrade Commissar

One of the most famous marshals was born 28 December 1897 Pole village Nikolsky district of the Vologda province. The son of a peasant family, he from a young age knew what hard work is. With 15 years Ivan Konev worked a seasonal worker at forest exchanges.

At the age of 19 he was drafted into the army. Enlisted in artillery, Konev at first, he served on the backup crew, and then, attaining the rank of non-commissioned officer, was sent to the South-Western front. After coming to power of the Bolsheviks, the Konev was demobilized.

A retired non-commissioned officer, returning home, began to help the strengthening of the Soviet power. Konev was appointed a district military Commissar. Then, joining the ranks of the red Army, he fought with the white guards and Japanese interventionists in the far East.

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Was at that time Ivan Stepanovich not the commander and Commissar, a man who inspired men to fight for a brighter future. He was followed, because Konev himself from the bullets were hiding. In 1921 he was among the delegates of the X Congress of the RCP(b) who went to suppress the Kronstadt rebellion.

After the Civil war, Konev remained in the red army, occupying posts of high Commissioner and head of the political.

The General and his army

Commissioner Konev did Klim Voroshilov, to be discerned in him a talent not only a political leader but also the commander. After passing the postgraduate Courses of higher command personnel, Konev commanded various units and formations of the red army in the far East, in 1940, rising to commander of the Transbaikal military district.

In January 1941, Lieutenant-General Konev was promoted to the position of commander of the North Caucasian military district.

At the beginning of the great Patriotic war Konev headed created from parts of district 19-th army, which was to deter the Germans on the Western front.

Like all of the red Army, the success of the army Konev in that period was quite modest. At Smolensk the troops were surrounded but managed to escape from the ring. Getting out of a dangerous situation, Konev knew that his leadership of the army like Stalin, he was promoted to Colonel General and appointed commander of the Western front.

“Military Marshal” Ivan Konev https://t.co/oyeqrHbXFs pic.twitter.com/vyCyn9NBpj

— Nikolai Starikov (@nstarikov) 28 Dec 2016

Accident near Vyazma

The commanders of the Western front in the summer of 1941 changed as in a kaleidoscope. The outbreak of war in office , army General Pavlov was charged with the catastrophe of the first weeks of the war and executed. The front took Lieutenant-General Yeremenko, who was soon wounded. To replace Eremenko came to the people’s Commissar of defense Marshal Semyon Timoshenko.

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But no rotation of personnel is not allowed to stop the enemy, stubbornly moving to Moscow. Did not get it and Konev.

Regroup, the Germans at the beginning of October 1941 struck a powerful blow, broke through the defenses of the Western front and West viaz’ma surrounded by four Soviet army.

Casualties were appalling – about 300 thousand killed, 500 thousand prisoners and missing. German sources give even larger numbers.

Just after the disaster at Vyazma in Moscow started to panic – was expecting that the Germans would enter the city. Perhaps it would have happened as there are no serious forces in the path of the Nazis to Moscow. Zhukov, sent to save the situation, bit by bit collected the surviving part, which was completely disorganized.

Not allowed to strike a decisive blow at the capital of the troops, dying in the environment. They fought so fiercely that the Germans had to completely focus on them. Dying, the soldiers surrounded armies won the time for Moscow.

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The Tribunal quashed bugs

Konev entourage escaped, but it was clearly understood that it is waiting for the fate of the executed informed General Pavlov. From Moscow there has arrived the Commission of the State Defense Committee, headed by Molotov and Voroshilov. Her conclusion seemed a foregone conclusion, and then to be followed by the Tribunal and shot.

In this almost hopeless situation, Konev saved Zhukov’s intervention, which appealed directly to Stalin, saying that, the front commander did in this situation all possible. Moreover, Zhukov, who became the new commander of the front, said Konev need him as Deputy. Stalin agreed to the request of Zhukov. A few days Konev was appointed commander of the Kalinin front, created from a part of the departments of the Western front in North-Western direction from Moscow.

Part of the Kalinin front was distinguished in the counter-offensive near Moscow, which has disappeared, finally, the sword of Damocles hanging over the head of Konev.

But then in the biography Konev was again not very bright page associated with unsuccessful attempts of the Soviet troops to take Rzhev. In the fall of 1942 Konev in the position of commander of the Western front under General Zhukov’s leadership will again be to attack the Rzhev in operation Mars, which will also fail. However, thanks to her able to delay significant German reserves, which will allow the red army to achieve great success at Stalingrad.

Colonel-General Ivan Stepanovich Konev, commander of the Steppe front. 1943 Photo: RIA Novosti/ Peter Bernstein

Time to win

A turning point for Konev was July 1943, when he was appointed commander of the Steppe front. On the eve of the battle of Kursk troops were deployed in reserve behind the Central and Voronezh fronts. In front of the goal in the case of a breakthrough of the enemy to stop its offensive against the occupied line.

But the battle developed favorably, and on July 17 a fresh Konev”s troops counterattacked the Nazis. On August 3, our troops together with the troops of the Voronezh front took the offensive in the Belgorod-Kharkov direction. August 5, Konev”s troops liberated Belgorod, August 23 – Kharkov.

Konev felt the confidence, which if passed on to his soldiers. In September 1943, the Steppe front frees the Poltava and Kremenchug, at the end of the same month with the move, forcing the Dnieper.

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After the capture of Kharkov Ivan Konev became the General of the army, and six months later Marshal of the Soviet Union. These six months will include a whole series of successful operations of the 2nd Ukrainian front, which was renamed the Steppe. In early 1944 Konev”s troops along with the 1st Ukrainian front, Nikolai Vatutin will hold the Korsun-Shevchenko operation, during which it was surrounded and destroyed 10 enemy divisions.

In the spring of 1944, after defeating the 8th German army, part of the 2nd Ukrainian front, the first to be released on the state border of the USSR, and will bring the fighting into the territory of one of Hitler’s satellites – Romania.

July 29, 1944, for his able leadership of the troops of the fronts in large operations, where he was defeated strong enemy, personal courage and heroism, Ivan Konev was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

The right to take the lair of the beast

By April 1945, when he took a fateful conversation about the capture of Berlin, Konev, together with Zhukov and Rokossovsky was among the three most successful and popular of the Soviet military.

Each of the three was ambitious, and everyone wanted to make a decisive contribution towards the capture of the enemy capital.

According to the General plan of the Berlin operation, we set the following tasks:

  • The 1st Belarusian front — to seize the German capital city of Berlin.
  • The 1st Ukrainian front to strike cleave South of Berlin, to isolate the main forces of army group “Center” from the Berlin group and to ensure that from the South the main attack of the 1st Belorussian front.
  • 2nd Belorussian front — strike cleave North of Berlin, protecting the right flank of the 1st Belorussian front against possible enemy counterattacks from the North.

Thus, Stalin heard the words Konev, the main role was taken all the same Zhukov.

But Konev believed that nothing is a foregone conclusion. In his memoirs, he wrote: “… Taking a line with a pencil, Stalin suddenly interrupted her in Lubben… the Dividing line was torn about where we had to go to the third day of the operation. Next (obviously, depending on the situation) tacitly assumed the possibility of initiative from the commanders of fronts. If there was a breakage of the dividing line to Provide an unspoken invitation to competition fronts? It’s a possibility. In any case, do not exclude her.”

Ivan Konev in Prague, 1945 Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org

The Berlin dispute

No Zhukov or Rokossovsky, however, no call for competition is not seen. It started by itself when part of the 1st Belorussian front was involved in heavy fighting on the Seelow heights, and the 1st Ukrainian front were advancing rapidly forward. Building on the success, Konev, by order of the Bet, ordered the 3rd and 4th guards tank armies to turn on Berlin.

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But Zhukov’s troops, breaking through the German defense, too, quickly came to Berlin. As a result, the units of the two fronts came almost simultaneously. At 12 o’clock 25, April 6th guards mechanized corps of the 1st Ukrainian front joined the 1st Belorussian front, thereby closing the encirclement around Berlin.

Between the marshals at this point, there was an active exchange of opinions. Konev hoped for the division of responsibilities in Berlin so that the main attack vital installations in the capital of the Third Reich struck his unit. But Zhukov didn’t change, and the flag over the Reichstag will raise the soldiers of the 3rd shock army of the 1st Belorussian front.

After just a few days of the 1st Ukrainian front will play a crucial role in the Prague operation, and the grateful Czechs will glorify Marshal Konev as a liberator of Prague. For exemplary leadership of the troops in the final operations of the great Patriotic war Konev the second time will be awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

But don’t hold if Ivan Stepanovich offense Georgy for Berlin?

“Zhukov did not justify the trust of the party”

After Stalin’s death they shall participate in the overthrow Lavrenty Beria, and Konev and all will become Chairman of the Special bench, which will make the former all-powerful head of the NKVD death sentence. When the beetles will become defense Minister, Konev will be his 1st Deputy. The witnesses claimed that their disputes will be extremely sharp.

“I did everything to fulfill the duty.” Victory and defeat of Marshal Zhukov

The denouement comes in the fall of 1957, when Khrushchev decided to shift Zhukov. In the newspaper “Pravda” appears the article “the power of the Soviet Army and Navy – in the party leadership, in close connection with the people.” The author will condemn the fall from grace of the commander was worth: “Zhukov did not justify the trust of the party, was politically an untenable figure, prone to adventurism in the understanding of the most important tasks of Soviet foreign policy and the leadership of the Ministry of defense.” The author was Ivan Konev. The old Commissioner has not lost the skills of the worker.

After the removal of Zhukov, Konev will become the new Minister of defense – this post will appoint Rodion Malinovsky. In the early 1960s, Ivan Stepanovich will move to the Group of inspectors General of the defense Ministry, which is also called “Paradise” honored military leaders, advising a new generation of military, usually remained in it until his death.

Marshal of the Soviet Union Ivan Konev (left) and Marshal of the Soviet Union Semyon Budyonny (right) at a meeting of veterans in the Kremlin. 1965 Photo: RIA Novosti/ Selimkhanov

It turned, and Ivan Konev. He died in may 1973, a year before Zhukov. Two glorious Marshal was buried in the necropolis near the Kremlin wall, but, ironically, even here they are divided – the urn containing the ashes of Ivan Konev was buried in the columbarium of the Kremlin wall on the left side of the Mausoleum, and urn with the ashes of Georgy Zhukov is right.

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