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Ivan Konev : biography

28 December 1897 - 21 May 1973

Ivan Stepanovich Konev ( 16 December (28 December) 1897 – 21 May 1973), was a Soviet military commander, who led Red Army forces on the Eastern Front during World War II, retook much of Eastern Europe from occupation by the Axis Powers, and helped in the capture of Germany's capital, Berlin.

In 1956, as the Commander of Warsaw Pact forces, Konev led the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution by Soviet armoured divisions.

Post-war career

After the war Konev was appointed head of the Soviet occupation forces in Eastern Germany and also Allied High Commissioner for Austria. In 1946 he became commander of Soviet ground forces and First Deputy Minister of Defense of the Soviet Union, replacing Zhukov. He held these posts until 1950, when he was appointed commander of the Carpathian Military District. This was clearly a demotion, and was in line with Stalin's policy of relegating popular wartime commanders to obscure posts so they would not become threats to his position.

After Stalin's death, however, Konev returned to prominence. He became a key ally of the new Party leader, Nikita Khrushchev, being entrusted with the trial of the Stalinist police chief, Lavrenty Beria in 1953. He was again appointed First Deputy Minister of Defense and commander of Soviet ground forces, posts he held until 1956, when he was named Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact. Shortly after his appointment he led the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution.

He held this post until 1960, when he retired from active service. In 1961–62, however, he was recalled and was again commander of the Soviet forces in East Germany. He was then appointed to the largely ceremonial post of Inspector-General of the Defense Ministry.

Konev remained one of the Soviet Union's most admired military figures until his death in 1973. He married twice, and his daughter Nataliya is Dean of the Department of Linguistics and Literature at the Russian Military University.

In 1969, the Ministry of Defense of the USSR published Konev's 285 page war memoir called Forty-Five. It was later translated into English in the same year and published by Progress Publishers, Moscow. This work discusses Konev's taking of Berlin, Prague, his work with Marshal Georgi Zhukov, Stalin, his field meeting with General Omar Bradley and Jascha Heifetz. In English, the book was titled I. Konev — YEAR OF VICTORY. It was also published in Spanish under the title El Año 45.

Marshal of the Soviet Union, Twice Hero of the Soviet Union, holder of the Order of Victory Ivan Stepanovich Konev was buried in the Kremlin Wall with the greatest heroes of the USSR, and can still be visited today.

In 1992 his memorial sculpture in Kraków was dismantled. The sculpture was given to Ukraine. The memorial plaque in front of the apartment building where he lived (three blocks from the Kremlin) is still mounted on the brick wall.

Honours and awards

Soviet Union
  • Hero of the Soviet Union, twice (29 July 1944, 1 June 1945)
  • Order of Victory (№ 5–3 March 1945)
  • Seven Orders of Lenin (29 July 1944, 21 February 1945, 27 December 1947, 18 December 1956, 27 December 1957, 27 December 1967, 28 December 1972)
  • Order of the October Revolution (22 February 1968)
  • Order of the Red Banner, three times (22 February 1938, 3 November 1944, 20 June 1949)
  • Order of Suvorov, 1st class, twice (27 August 1943, 17 May 1944)
  • Order of Kutuzov, 1st class, twice (9 April 1943, 28 July 1943)
  • Order of the Red Star (16 August 1936)
  • Jubilee Medal "XX Years of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army" (22 February 1938)
  • Medal "For the Defence of Moscow" (1 May 1944)
  • Medal "For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945" (1945)
  • Medal "For the Capture of Berlin" (9 June 1945)
  • Medal "For the Liberation of Prague" (9 June 1945)
  • Medal "In Commemoration of the 800th Anniversary of Moscow" (21 September 1947)
  • Jubilee Medal "30 Years of the Soviet Army and Navy" (22 February 1948)
  • Jubilee Medal "40 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR" (17 February 1958)
  • Jubilee Medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945" (1965)
  • Jubilee Medal "50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR" (1968)
  • Medal "For military valor. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin"
  • Honorary weapon - a sword inscribed with gold National Emblem of the Soviet Union (22 February 1968)
  • Honorary citizen of Bălți (Moldova) and other cities
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