Marshal Tukhachevsky
The Red Bonaparte

Source: Spartacus Schoolnet

NameMarshal Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky (16/2/1893-11/6/1937)
Also Known AsThe Red Bonaparte
(Alternative spellings) Mikhayl Toukhachevski
BiographyMarshal Tukhachevsky was the most important military figure in the Soviet Union before being purged by Joseph Stalin in 1937. Born into an aristocratic family of polish origin in 1893, Tukhachevsky graduated from Aleksandrovskye Military School in 1914, joining the Semyenovsky guards regiment.
As a Lieutenant during WWI, Tukhachevsky was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war in Ingolstadt fortress along with Charles De Gaulle. Returning to Russia in 1917 after the revolution, Tukhachevsky joined the Red Army in 1918 and rapidly advanced in rank due to his great ability. He also joined the bolshevik party in 1918, but showed little interest in ideology - he joined for career advancement.
During the Civil War, Tukhachevsky commanded the Southern Front and later Caucasian and Western fronts, 1920-1921. Tukhachevsky led the Soviet invasion of Poland, during which time he engaged in fierce disagreements with Stalin, who was then a political commissar. Both the Kronstadt uprising and Antonov's Tambov peasant revolt were crushed under Tukhachevsky's command. During the 1920s, Marshal Tukhachevsky transformed the irregular revolutionary detachments of the Red Army into a well-drilled, professional military, also expressing a belief in the importance of rocketry and the mechanisation of warfare early on.
Post Civil-War CareerHead of the Academy of the Red Army and Commander of the Western Front, 1922-1924.
Chief of Staff of the Red Army, 1925-1928.
Commander of the Leningrad military district 1928.
Deputy Defence Minister, Deputy Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR and Head of Armaments of the Red Army, 1931.
Non-voting member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, 1934-1937.
First Deputy Defence Minister and Head of Military Training, 1936.
PurgeIn January 1936, during a trip as head of a Soviet Delegation to the funeral of King George V, Tukhachevsky visited Britain, France and Germany. Tukhachevsky came under NKVD suspicion around this time, resulting ultimately in a purge which removed much of the Red Army's command. This was one of the first waves of the purge of the military, party and security aparatus for which Stalin's rule is notorious (although it is important to note that various other elements of the Soviet citizenry had been purged since the 1917 October Revolution).
Tukhachevsky was demoted to Commander of the Volga military district in May 1937 and recalled to Moscow June 1937.
10th June: Tukhachevsky's arrest announced.
11th June: Investigation over, Tukhachevsky is executed.
12th June: Soviet papers announce that Tukhachevsky, Iakir and Putna have been executed for high treason and conspiracy with a foreign power.
Posthumously rehabilitated under Khrushchev.
  • Jeanne Vronskaya with Vladimir Chuguev, A Biographical Dictionary of the Soviet Union 1917-1988, K G Saur, London, 1989.
  • See AlsoLeon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin

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    Copyright 2001-2004 Trevor Stanley, PWHCE