Shmushkevich, Yaacov

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SHMUSHKEVICH, YAACOV (1902–1941), Soviet air force commander. Born in Rokiškis, Lithuania, Shmushkevich fought in the Red Army during the Russian Civil War of 1918–20. In 1922 he was transferred to the air force, finishing flight school as a pilot in 1931. He rapidly gained promotion and was sent to Spain in 1936 to reorganize the Republican Air Force. In 1937 he commanded Madrid's air defense. On his return to the Soviet Union in the following year he was made a Hero of the Soviet Union. Subsequently Shmushkevich was made commander of the Soviet air force in the Far East, and took part in 1939 in the war with the Japanese in Khalkin-Khol. From November 1939 he was head of the Red Army Air Force, from May 1940 chief inspector of the Air Force, and from December 1940 aide to the chief of staff in air force matters. For his work in establishing the Soviet air defense he was made Hero of the Soviet Union for a second time, one of the few soldiers ever to have been accorded the honor twice. On June 4, 1940 he received the rank of colonel-general but shortly before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, he was dismissed from his post. He was arrested in 1941, tried for treason, and executed on October 28, 1941 in Kuybishev. At the 20th Communist Party Congress in 1954, Shmushkevich was one of several executed Soviet figures to be posthumously rehabilitated. In 1967 the Soviet Army published a special work in his memory.


F. Sverdlov: YevreiGeneraly, vooruzhonnykh cil U.S.S.R. (1993).

[Mordechai Kaplan]