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Mekhlis, Lev Zakharovich


MEKHLIS, LEV ZAKHAROVICH (1889–1953), Soviet army officer. Born in Odessa, Mekhlis was conscripted into the czarist army and during World War i served in an artillery regiment. He joined the Red Army in 1919 and served through the civil war of 1918–21, becoming military commissar of a brigade, a division, and an army group in the Ukraine. In 1930 he graduated from the Institute of Red Professors. For several years Mekhlis was an official of the Communist party central committee and after 1930 worked on the newspaper Pravda. He was head of the Red Army's political administration from 1937 to 1940 when he became U.S.S.R. people's commissar of state control. Following the outbreak of World War ii, Mekhlis served in the Red Army in 1941–42, again as head of political administration of the army, vice commissar of defense, and from July 1942 to 1945 as member of various front war councils. He was promoted to lieutenant-general on December 6, 1942, and to colonel-general on July 29, 1944. His many decorations included the award of four Lenin medals. After the war he served for a short period as U.S.S.R. minister of state control. He died on February 13, 1953, and his body was interred in the Kremlin wall.


Bolshaya Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya, 27 (1954), 388; Sovetskaya Istoricheskaya Entsiklopediya; Sovetsky entsiklopedichesky slovar. add. bibliography: F.D. Sverdlov, Jewish Generals in the Armed Forces of the U.S.S.R. (1993).

[Mordechai Kaplan /

Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]

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