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Voroshilov, Kliment Efremovich

VOROSHILOV, KLIMENT EFREMOVICH

(18811969), leading Soviet political and military figure, member of Stalin's inner circle.

A machinist's apprentice who joined the Bolsheviks in 1903, Kliment Efremovich Voroshilov spent nearly a decade underground and in exile, then emerged in late 1917 to become the commissar of Petrograd. In 1918 he assisted Felix Dzerzhinsky in founding the Cheka, then fought on various civil war fronts, including Tsaritsyn in 1918, where he sided with Josef V. Stalin against Leon Trotsky over the utilization of former tsarist officers in the new Red Army. A talented grass-roots organizer, Voroshilov was adept at assembling ad hoc field units, especially cavalry. Following the death of Mikhail V. Frunze in late 1925, Voroshilov served until mid-1934 as commissar of military and naval affairs, and subsequently until May 1940 as defense commissar. Known more as a political toady than a serious commander, he served in important command and advisory capacities during World War II, often with baleful results. During the postwar era he aided in the Sovietization of Hungary, but at home was relegated to largely honorific governmental positions. To his credit Voroshilov objected to using the Red Army against the peasantry during collectivization, and, despite complicity in Stalin's purges, he occasionally intervened to rescue military officers. Notwithstanding a cavalry bias, he oversaw an impressive campaign for the mechanization of the Red Army during the 1930s, including support for the T-34 tank over Stalin's initial objections. After Stalin's death in 1953 Voroshilov was named chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, a post he held until he was forced to resign in 1960 after participating in the anti-Party group opposed to Nikita Khrushchev.

See also: military, soviet and post-soviet; stalin, josef vissarionovich

bibliography

Erickson, John. (1962). The Soviet High Command. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Bruce W. Menning

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