Soviet General. He served as commander of Soviet military forces during the Second World War. He joined the Bolshevik Party in August 1917 and rose to the position of chief of staff of the Soviet Red Guard, helping to suppress anti-Soviet forces during the Russian Civil War. In 1939 he was appointed as commander of the Leningrad Military District, and was subsequently promoted as head of Soviet invasion forces following the Soviet Union's declaration of War against Finland in November 1939. Following an unsuccessful winter campaign against the Finns in which the Soviet Red Army suffered heavy casualties resulting from poor organization and preparation, he was relieved of command and placed in charge of the Russian 7th Army. In February 1940 he once again participated in a second Soviet offensive, this time helping to easily defeat the Finns, for which he was promoted to the rank of Hero of the Soviet Union. He was also awarded the titles of Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Commissar of Defense for his successful role in the Finland invasion. He was appointed to the Soviet High Command to organize defensive strategies following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. In September he was arrested and falsely imprisoned by Lavrenty Beria, accused of being a traitor. He was released from prison the following month at the direct orders of Joseph Stalin to defend and counter the German offensive of Leningrad in the north for which he was eventually successful, earning him the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union in October 1944. In 1945 he was assigned to the Far East where he defeated the Japanese Army during the final months of the war. Following the war he was awarded the titles of Minister of Defense and Inspector General for the Ministry of Defense. He died as one of the most respected and decorated Soviet generals of World War II.
Bio by: Nils M. Solsvik Jr.