11.06.

1937: Stalin’s Bloody Purge of Mikhail Tukhachevsky and other Military Commanders

1937: Stalin’s Bloody Purge of Mikhail Tukhachevsky and other Military Commanders
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/Marshal Tukhachevsky with his family

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 11 June 1937
  • The sharpest thorn in Stalin’s eye was Mikhail Tukhachevsky, the youngest Marshal of the Soviet Union, whom Stalin himself called "Little Napoleon". On this day Marshal Tukhachevsky and eight other generals were brought before a military court. The verdict was made on the same day and Tukhachevsky was sentenced to death. He was executed within an hour, with a bullet to the back of his head.

On this day the Soviet dictator Stalin got rid of the military commanders he believed could prove dangerous for his authority in the future due to their abilities and influence. The sharpest thorn in Stalin’s eye was Mikhail Tukhachevsky, one of the top five Marshals of the Soviet Union.

The others were Voroshilov, Yegorov, Blyukher, and Budyonny).

Tukhachevsky was the youngest Marshal of the Soviet Union and Stalin himself called him “Little Napoleon” due to his competence.

Stalin knew that the Red Army was the only force in the USSR capable of overthrowing his dictatorship, so he decided to remove Tukhachevsky and his associates.

First he moved Tukhachevsky from the General Command and appointed him military commander of the Volga Military District, probably to distance him from loyal troops.

As soon as Tukhachevsky came to take his new command, he was arrested and placed under investigation of the notorious secret police within the NKVD (short for Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del, i.e. People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs).

On this day Marshal Tukhachevsky and eight other generals were brought before a military tribunal.

It is interesting to note that the rank of general actually did not exist in the Soviet Union before 1940, but military ranks were called KOMANDARM (Commander of the Army), KOMKOR (Commander of the Corps), KOMDIV (Division Commander), etc.

When Tukhachevsky heard what he is accused of, he reportedly said: “I feel I’m dreaming.”

Even the judges were scared and one of them stated: “Tomorrow I’ll be put in the same place”.

The verdict vas made the same day and Tukhachevsky was sentenced to death. He was executed within an hour, with a bullet to the back of his head.

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