Birthday: February 4, 1881
Died At Age: 88
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov
Born Country: Ukraine
Born in: Bakhmut, Ukraine
Famous as: Military Officer
Spouse/Ex-: Golda Gorbman (m. ?–1959)
children: Petya Voroshilov
Died on: December 2, 1969
place of death: Moscow, Russia
awards: Order of the Red Banner
Order of Suvorov
Hero of Socialist Labour
Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov, better known as Klim Voroshilov, was an important military and political figure in Soviet Russia during the Stalin era. He became one of the first five marshals, which was the highest rank in the military of the Soviet Union. Originally from the Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Voroshilov became a member of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1905. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, he joined the Ukrainian Council of People's Commissars. In 1918, he served alongside Joseph Stalin during the Red Army's defence of Tsaritsyn. During the Russian Civil War and the Polish-Soviet War, he served as a commander, and then in the inter-war period, he was appointed People's Commissar for Defence of the Soviet Union. During World War II, from 1941 to 1944, he served as a member of the State Defense Committee. However, his abysmal performance in the disastrous Winter War severely reduced his influence and power in the Soviet administration. Voroshilov was appointed the commander of the short-lived Northwestern Direction following the German invasion of the Soviet Union. After the war, he was made the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, a post he held from 1953 to 1960.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on February 4, 1881, in Verkhnyeye, Bakhmutuyezd, Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Russian Empire (modern-day Lysychansk city in Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine), Kliment Voroshilov was the son of Efrem Voroshilov and Maria Agafonova. His father was a railway worker. Their family was of Russian descent.
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Involvement in the Russian Revolution
In 1905, Kliment Voroshilov became a member of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. After the revolution, he joined the Ukrainian Council of People's Commissars. Along with Vasiliy Averin, he served as a commissar for Internal Affairs.
During the Red Army's 1918 defense of Tsaritsyn, Voroshilov forged a professional and personal bond with Stalin that lasted a lifetime. He participated in the Russian Civil War and the Polish-Soviet War as a commander of the Southern Front.
At the time, he was an equal of Stalin, and his main task as a political commissar was to boost the morale of his unit, the 1st Cavalry Army. Between 1917 and 1918, he served as the chief of the Petrograd Police.
Activities in the Interwar Period
Kliment Voroshilov was elected to be a member of the Central Committee in 1921, a position he occupied until 1961. Following the death of Mikhail Frunze in 1925, Voroshilov was made People's Commissar for Military and Navy Affairs and Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR.
His most significant achievement in this period was the relocation of important Soviet war industries east of the Urals, so that the Soviet Union could strategically fall back while maintaining its manufacturing capability.
In 1926, he joined the newly-established Politburo and went on to hold its membership until 1960. In 1934, he was made People's Commissar (Minister) for Defence. A year later, he was appointed a marshal of the Soviet Union.
During the Great Purge of the 1930s, on Stalin’s instructions, he castigated his own military colleagues and subordinates. He sent letters to exiled former Soviet officers and diplomats, including Commissar Mikhail Ostrovsky, urging them to come back to the Soviet Union. He also offered them misleading reassurance that they would not be persecuted after their return. Voroshilov’s name appeared in 185 documented execution lists.
Although he was actively involved in the purging of many "mechanisers", people who believed in the wide usage of tanks over cavalry, he was nevertheless a supporter of modernising the Soviet Army.
After Marshal Semyon Budyonny attempted to convince him to safeguard the status of cavalry in the Red Army, Voroshilov came out announcing his desire to do the opposite.
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After the conclusion of the purge, the high command of the Red Army decided to introduce several reforms to modernise the Soviet military. However, the commanders who instigated these reforms, including Voroshilov and Grigory Kulik, themselves turned out to be inadequate to implement them.
The Second World War
Kliment Voroshilov was in charge of the Soviet Army during the Winter War between November 1939 and January 1940. This conflict with Finland proved to be catastrophic for the Russians. Because of terrible Soviet tactics and Voroshilov’s ineptness, the Russians lost about 320,000 army personnel, while the Finnish lost about 70,000 people.
During the meeting of the Soviet high command at Stalin's dacha at Kuntsevo, Stalin held Voroshilov responsible for the Finnish debacle. Voroshilov retorted by saying that Stalin’s purge of competent military leaders had caused it. Regardless, Voroshilov was forced to take the blame for it and was removed from his position as the Defense Commissar in May 1940.
Despite initially advocating for the release of thousands of Polish army officers taken captive in September 1939, he approved their execution order. This event came to be known as the Katyn massacre of 1940. From 1941 to 1944, Voroshilov was part of the State Defence Committee.
After Nazi Germany attacked Soviet Russia in June 1941, Kliment Voroshilov served as the commander of the Northwestern Direction from July to August 1941, in charge of several fronts.
He demonstrated exceptional valour on the Leningrad front. However, his tactics were severely criticised, and he was substituted with the much more competent Georgy Zhukov on September 8, 1941.
Kliment Voroshilov was a two-time (1956 and 1968) Hero of the Soviet Union recipient. He also received the Hero of Socialist Labour (1960), the Order of Lenin eight times (1935, 1938, 1941, 1945, 1951, 1956, 1961, and 1968), and the Honorary Revolutionary Weapon twice (1920 and 1968).
Family & Personal Life
Kliment Voroshilov was married to Ekaterina Voroshilova. Born Golda Gorbman, she converted from Judaism to Orthodox Christianity before marrying Voroshilov. They first became acquainted during the period when they both had been dispatched on exile in Arkhangelsk.
The couple did not have any biological children. However, while they were both posted at the Tsaritsyn Front in 1918, Ekaterina began working with the orphans there. They met a four-year-old orphan boy named Petya, whom they subsequently adopted. They also raised the children of Mikhail Frunze after his death in 1925. During the Stalin era, the family resided in the Kremlin at the Horse Guards.
Later Years & Death
Stalin realized the political necessity of famous wartime leaders, so he kept Kliment Voroshilov in the Soviet administration as an important figurehead. From 1945 to 1947, he oversaw the creation of the communist regime in post-war Hungary. He joined the Presidium of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1952.
Stalin died on March 5, 1953, and a power struggle subsequently ensued in the Soviet Union. Ten days later, Voroshilov, Nikita Khrushchev, and Georgy Malenkov were made Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, First Secretary of the Communist Party, and Premier of the Soviet Union, respectively.
On May 7, 1960, Voroshilov retired from his post as the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council and was replaced with Leonid Brezhnev. His responsibilities as a member of the Party Presidium (Politburo) were revoked on July 16, 1960.
His removal from the Soviet administration and politics was complete when he was kept out from election to the Central Committee at the 22nd party congress. After the ousting of Khrushchev, Brezhnev let him return to politics. He was granted membership of the Central Committee once again in 1966.
Voroshilov passed away on December 2, 1969, in Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union. He was 88 years old at the time. He was laid to rest at the Kremlin Wall Necropolis.