Konstantin Rokossovsky

Konstantin Konstantinovich (Xaverevich) Rokossovsky (Russian: Константин Константинович Рокоссовский; Polish: Konstanty Rokossowski; 21 December 1896 – 3 August 1968) 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.[2] He was among the most prominent Red Army commanders of World War II.

Konstantin Rokossovsky
Rokossovsky in 1945
Birth nameKonstanty Rokossowski
Born(1896-12-21)21 December 1896[1]
Velikiye Luki or Warsaw, Russian Empire[1]
Died3 August 1968(1968-08-03) (aged 71)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
AllegianceRussian Empire (1914–1917)
Soviet Russia (1917–1922)
USSR (1922–1949, 1956–1968)
Polish People's Republic (1949–1956)
Years of service1914–1937, 1940–1962
RankMarshal of the Soviet Union
Marshal of Poland
Commands held7th Samara Cavalry Division
15th Cavalry Division
5th Cavalry Corps
9th Mechanized Corps
4th Army
"Group Yartsevo"
16th Army
Bryansk Front
Don Front
Central Front
1st Belorussian Front
2nd Belorussian Front
Polish Armed Forces
Battles/warsWorld War I
Russian Civil War
Russo-Chinese Eastern Railroad War
Soviet occupation of Bessarabia
World War II
AwardsHero of the Soviet Union (twice)
Légion d'honneur
Cross of St. George 4th class

Born in Warsaw under Russian rule (today in Poland), Rokossovsky served in the Imperial Russian Army during World War I. After the war he joined the Red Army and fought with great distinction during the Russian Civil War. 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, Rokossovsky was reinstated due to an urgent need of experienced officers. Following Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, Rokossovsky played key roles in the defense of Moscow and the counter-offensives at Stalingrad and Kursk. He was instrumental in planning and executing part of Operation Bagration—one of the most decisive Red Army successes of the war—for which he was made 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. He was dismissed in 1956 when 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.