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Markian Popov : biography

15 November 1902 - 22 April 1969

Markian Mikhaylovich Popov ( 19021969) was a Soviet military commander, Army General (26.8.1943), and Hero of the Soviet Union (1965).


During the German-Soviet War at various times he commanded a number of Armies and a number of Fronts. His career was uneven.

In June 1941 he was Commander of the Leningrad Military District, then Northern Front (24 June – 5 September). The Germans advanced with a terrific speed, but then they were halted just before Leningrad. The army group was on 26 August renamed as Leningrad Front.

Then he participated in Zhukov’s counteroffensive before Moscow. Zhukov, who co-ordinated several fronts in this Moscow sector, tried to collect able commanders in the area. So for example the 16th Army (Western Front) was headed by General Rokossovsky, the 4th Shock Army’s commander was General Yeryomenko, the 5th Army was under General Govorov. On December 18 Popov was appointed Commander of the 61st Army (Bryansk Front) and fought well during the counteroffensive.

He maintained this position until 28 June 1942. Then he was shifted to the Stalingrad area. He was Assistant Commander of the Stalingrad Front (under Yeremenko, 13 October – 20 November), then Commander of the 5th Shock Army (8 December – 28 December). On December 26 this army was switched to Vatutin’s Southwestern Front. In 1943 firstly he commanded a larger mechanized group, but in February his unit was badly defeated.

Then he was appointed Commander of the Bryansk Front (5 June – 10 October 1943), with which he participated in the Battle of Kursk. During the battle, Bryansk Front was very successful in crushing German opposition, and was able to capture Oryol and Bryansk in August. He was promoted to Army General (26 August 1943). After the Battle of Kursk he was sent north, to command the 2nd Baltic Front (20 October 1943 – 23 April 1944). He was demoted to Colonel General (20 April 1944) because of the denunciations of Lev Mekhlis, who was commissar at the front. Until the end of the war he was Chief of Staff of the Leningrad Front.

After the war he was promoted again to Army General (3 August 1953). In 1956-1962 he was Chief of the General Staff of the Soviet Ground Forces.

He died April 22, 1969 in an accidental fire.

He was never given the rank Marshal of the Soviet Union, although Marshal of Aviation Golovanov and Marshal Vasilevsky considered him very talented.

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