Konstantin Konstantinovich Rokossovsky

1896-1968


Konstantin Konstantinovich Rokossovsky was a Soviet and Polish military commander, twice Hero of the Soviet Union (1944, 1945), Knight of the Order of Victory (1945). He was the only marshal of two countries in the history of the USSR: he was a Marshal of the Soviet Union (1944) and Marshal of Poland (1949). He was born in the city of Velikiye Luki in the family of a railway worker (his father was a Pole by nationality). In the First World War, he volunteered for the front, served in a dragoon regiment. For bravery, he was awarded the St. George Medals of the 3rd and 4th degrees and the St. George Cross of the 4th degree. He became a junior non-commissioned officer. After the revolution, he joined the Red Army. During the Civil War, he commanded a squadron, division, regiment. He was wounded twice and twice awarded the Order of the Red Banner. Then he commanded a brigade. In 1925 he completed the Cavalry Advanced Training courses for the Command Staff, in 1929 – Advanced training courses for the higher commanding staff at Frunze Academy. He participated in the battles on the Sino-Eastern Railway, commanded the cavalry divisions and the cavalry corps. In August 1937, Rokossovsky was arrested, accused of links with Polish and Japanese intelligence, convicted, but in March 1940 at the request of S.M. Budyonny, S.K. Timoshenko and G.K. Zhukov was released and returned to the troops after a course of treatment. Rokossovsky met the war in the Kiev Special Military District as the commander of the 9th Mechanized Corps with the rank of Major General. On the morning of June 22, 1941 Rokossovsky raised the corps on alert and, having made a 200-kilometer march, attacked the enemy on the move. It was one of a few successful attacks on that tragic day. At the end of June 1941, the 9th Mechanized Corps under the command of Rokossovsky took part in the 1941 tank battle near Dubno, Lutsk and Rovno. Then Rokossovsky commanded the Yartsevsky Army group near Smolensk. There he was appointed as the commander of the 16th Army, which especially distinguished itself in the Battle of Moscow. In one of the battles, the commander was seriously wounded. Shortly after recovering and returning to the 16th Army, Rokossovsky was appointed as the commander of the Bryansk Front. From that moment until the end of the war, he commanded successively: Bryansk, Don, Central, Belorussian, 1st and 2nd Belorussian fronts. In the position of commander of the front, Rokossovsky’s generalship talent was revealed in its entirety. Appointed in September 1942 as the Commander of the Don Front, together with the commanders of the Southwest (N.F. Vatutin) and the Stalingrad (A.I. Eremenko) fronts, Rokossovsky took a direct part in the preparation and conduct of Operation Uranus, the purpose of which was to encircle and defeat the German fascist group near Stalingrad. After the enemy troops found themselves in the “cauldron”, by the decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, it was Rokossovsky’s Don Front that was instructed to dismember and capture the encircled group led by Field Marshal F. Von Paulus. Since February 1943 Rokossovsky commanded the troops of the Central Front on the Kursk Bulge and managed to adequately prepare the troops for the upcoming summer offensive of the enemy. On July 5, 1943, Rokossovsky, in agreement with the representative of the Stavka, G.K. Zhukov, was 10 minutes ahead of the enemy in delivering an artillery strike. This came as a surprise to the German command and delayed the start of Operation Citadel. Having repelled the German offensive, the troops of the Central Front launched a counteroffensive, liberating Orel on August 5. In the summer of the following 1944, K.K. Rokossovsky, commanding the 1st Belorussian Front, brilliantly proved himself in Operation Bagration, during which the enemy was dealt a crushing defeat in Belarus. For this operation, he received the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union and became a Marshal of the Soviet Union. From November 1944 until the end of the war, K.K. Rokossovsky commanded the 2nd Belorussian Front, whose troops together with other fronts smashed the enemy in the East Prussian, East Pomeranian and, finally, Berlin strategic operations. On May 2, 1945, K.K. Rokossovsky was awarded the title of the Hero for the second time. He was awarded the highest military commander’s Order “Victory”. On June 24, 1945, K.K. Rokossovsky commanded the historic Victory Parade in Moscow, hosted by Marshal G.K. Zhukov. After the war, Rokossovsky was the Minister of National Defence of Poland from 1949 to 1956. He was awarded the military rank of Marshal of Poland. Half joking, half serious, K.K. Rokossovsky claimed: “I am the most unfortunate Marshal of the Soviet Union. In Russia I was considered to be Pole, and in Poland I was considered to be Russian. I should have captured Berlin, I was the closest. But Stalin called and said: “Berlin will be captured by Zhukov.” I asked why I had earned such disfavor. Stalin replied: “This is not disgrace, this is politics.” In 1956-1957 Rokossovsky was the Deputy Minister of Defence of the USSR, in 1957 he was transferred to the commander of the Transcaucasian Military District. In 1958-1962 he was again the Deputy Minister of Defence and Chief Inspector of the USSR Ministry of Defence. The last years of his life he was in the group of inspectors General of the Ministry of Defence.

Address: Moscow, Park of the 40th anniversary of Victory (Savelka district of Moscow)