Gamarnik, Yan Borisovich

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GAMARNIK, YAN BORISOVICH (1894–1937). Born in Zhitomir, Gamarnik joined the Communist Party in 1916, taking part in preparing the October Revolution of 1917 in Kiev and in 1918–19 heading the Communist organizations and revolutionary councils of Odessa, Kharkov, Crimea, and Kiev. In 1919–20 he served as a divisional commissar on the southern front. From 1929 until his death in 1937 he was head of the political administration of the Soviet army and a member of the Party Central Committees of the Ukraine, Belorussia, and ultimately the U.S.S.R. He also served from June 1930 as deputy people's commissar for defense and chief editor of the Red Army journal Krasnaya Zvezda. He was awarded the highest state distinctions. During the mass arrests he committed suicide. His wife was the sister of Ḥayyim Nahman *Bialik's wife.