Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov (1896–1974) was a marshal of the Soviet Union and the preeminent Soviet military commander during World War II. Albert Axell’s book Marshal Zhukov: The man who beat Hitler claims that Zhukov was a military genius like Alexander the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Having been conscripted into the Czarist Russian Army during World War I, Zhukov then joined the Red Army in 1918, served as a cavalry commander during the Russian Civil War (1918-20), and afterward studied military science at the Frunze Military Academy (graduated 1931) as well as in Germany. He rose steadily through the ranks, and as head of Soviet forces in the Manchurian border region he directed a successful counter-offensive against Japanese forces there in 1939. (Previously, Japan defeated Russia in their 1905 War.)
During the Winter War, which the Soviet Union fought against Finland at the outset of World War II, Zhukov served as chief of staff of the Soviet Army. Zhukov was then transferred to command the Kiev military district in June 1940. After the Germans invaded the Soviet Union (June 1941), Zhukov organized the defense of Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and was then appointed commander-in-chief of the western front. Zhukov directed the defense of Moscow (autumn 1941) as well as the massive counter-offensive (December 1941) that drove the Germans’ Army Group Centre back from central Russia.
Zhukov oversaw the defense of Stalingrad (late 1942) and planned and directed the counter-offensive that encircled the Germans’ Sixth Army in that city (January 1943). Zhukov was heavily involved in the Battle of Kursk (July 1943) and directed the Soviet sweep across Ukraine in the winter and spring of 1944. He commanded the Soviet offensive through Belorussia (summer-autumn 1944), which resulted in the collapse of the Germans’ Army Group Centre and of German occupation of Poland and Czechoslovakia. In April 1945 Zhukov personally commanded the final assault on Berlin and then remained in Germany as commander of the Soviet occupation force. On May 8, 1945, he represented the Soviet Union at Germany’s formal surrender. He then served as the Soviet representative on the Allied Control Commission for Germany.
Upon Zhukov’s return to Moscow in 1946, however, his extraordinary popularity apparently caused him to be regarded as a potential threat by Stalin, who assigned him to a series of relatively obscure regional commands. Only after Stalin died (March 1953) did the new political leaders, wishing to secure the support of the army, appoint Zhukov a deputy minister of defense (1953). Zhukov subsequently supported Khrushchev against the chairman of the Council of Ministers, Malenkov, who favored a reduction in military expenditures. When Khrushchev forced Malenkov to resign and replaced him with Bulganin (February 1955), Zhukov succeeded Bulganin as minister of defense; at that time Zhukov was also elected an alternate member of the Presidium...
Zhukov received many positive comments from his Allied contemporaries. General Dwight Eisenhower stated that, because of Zhukov’s achievements fighting the Nazis (and the Japanese), the United Nations owed him much more than any other military leader in the world. “The war in Europe ended with victory and nobody could have did that better than Marshal Zhukov – we owed him that credit. Zhukov is a modest person… there must be another type of Order in Russia, an Order named after Zhukov, which is awarded to everybody who can learn the bravery, the far vision, and the decisiveness of this soldier,” said Dwight Eisenhower. Albert Axell stated that Zhukov was a loyal communist and a patriot. (Islamofascism threatens Russia nowadays.)
“The difficulty in understanding the Russian is that we do not take cognizance of the fact that he is not a European, but an Asiatic, and therefore thinks deviously. We can no more understand a Russian than a Chinaman or a Japanese, and from what I have seen of them, I have no particular desire to understand them, except to ascertain how much lead or iron it takes to kill them. In addition to his other Asiatic characteristics, the Russians have no regard for human life and is an all out son of a bitch, barbarian, and chronic drunk,” said General George Patton in 1945.