Mikhail Tukhachevsky Biography

(Soviet General Who was a Major Proponent of Modernization of Soviet Army in the 1920s and 1930s)

Birthday: February 16, 1893 (Aquarius)

Born In: Slednevo, Russia

Mikhail Tukhachevsky was a Soviet military leader, author and theoretician. He was one of the key leaders of the Red Army and was nicknamed ‘Red Napoleon’. He led the Soviet Union and ‘Red Army' to many victories. He is said to have led the modernization efforts of the military before Russia entered World War I (WWI). He also theorized and authored a book on military tactics and strategy. Born into a noble family, he received a world-class military education, after which he served in WWI. He was captured by the Germans but managed to escape. Thereafter, he served in the Red Army and became a decorated war hero, winning many battles during the Russian Civil War. But his methods were quite savage at times. He rose through the ranks of the Red Army until he reached the prestigious position of ‘Commander of the Red forces’ in charge of defending Moscow. But jealous colleagues accused him of treason. He was arrested, tried and executed with several others during one of Stalin’s military purges. Decades later, his name was cleared of all charges.
Quick Facts

Nick Name: Red Napoleon

Also Known As: Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky

Died At Age: 44


Spouse/Ex-: Nina Tukhachevskaya

father: Nikolay Tukhachevsky

siblings: Alexander Tukhachevsky, Elizaveta Arvatova-Tukhachevskaya, Maria Tukhachevskaya, Natalya Rostova, Nikolay Tukhachevsky, Olga Geiman-Tukhachevskaya, Sofya Tukhachevskaya

children: Irina Tukhachevskaya, Svetlana Tukhachevskaya

Born Country: Russia

Military Leaders Russian Men

Died on: June 12, 1937

place of death: Moscow, Russia

Notable Alumni: Alexandrov Military School, Moscow Military School

Cause of Death: Execution

More Facts

education: Alexandrov Military School, Moscow Military School

awards: Order of Saint Anna
2nd class
Order of Lenin

Order of the Red Banner
Order of Saint Anna
3rd class
Order of Saint Anna
4th class
Order of St. Vladimir
4th class
Order of Saint Stanislaus
3rd class

Childhood & Early Life
Mikhail Tukhachevsky was born on February 16, 1893 in Alexandrovskoye, Russia. He had two brothers, Nikolai and Alexandr, and three sisters. He belonged to a family of nobles, who were reportedly quite impoverished by the time he was born.
In 1912, he passed out of Moscow Military School. In 1914, he graduated from Aleksandrovskoye Military School.
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Mikhail Tukhachevsky joined the ‘Semyonovsky Guard’ regiment after passing out of military school. He was soon deployed in WWI as part of the Russian army. Within six months, he proved to be an asset to the army when he won six war decorations.
In February 1915, the German army captured him and imprisoned him at the secure and dangerous fortress of Ingolstadt in Bavaria. He tried to escape from prison four times, but was successful only on the fifth attempt.
In 1917, at the time of the ‘Bolshevik Revolt’ or ‘October Revolution’, he came back to Russia and joined the Bolsheviks’ Red Army as an officer.
From 1917-18, he rose through the ranks of Red Army as captain and then, commander during the Russian Civil War. In 1919, he was instrumental in the victory of Bolsheviks in Siberia.
In 1920, he secured another victory for the Red Army in Crimea. He also participated in the ‘Polish-Soviet War’, in which the Red Army failed to achieve its objective of capturing Warsaw.
The failure in Polish-Soviet War resulted in conflict between Stalin and Tukhachevsky. Both blamed each other for the failure.
Despite this massive defeat, Mikhail Tukhachevsky still held much respect and command in the ‘Red Army’ and was dispatched to handle an uprising against the Bolsheviks in Kronstadt.
From 1921-22, he suppressed major uprisings in Voronezh and Tambov regions through severely violent methods like public execution, concentration camps and mass shootings. He also became the chief of the ‘Red Army Military Academy’ during this time.
By 1924, he had reached the position of Deputy People’s Commissar for Defence. In 1925, he was appointed as the ‘Soviet Chief of Staff’.
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In 1926, butting heads with Stalin once again, he openly criticized the army’s outdated communication methods. He was also appointed as the First Deputy Commissar that year.
In 1928, he wrote ‘Future of War’, which was a 700-page book on detailed combat strategies and tactics
By 1930, just a year after Stalin had become the party leader, Tukhachevsky was being accused of trying to overthrow the government.
By 1931, he had penned several books on military reforms, and became in-charge of military modernization. He organized the troops, equipped the army with the latest weapons, set up aviation, artillery, paratroop, tank and other training academies, and supported military rocket studies.
In 1935, he became a ‘Marshal of the Soviet Union’. By 1936, he was also appointed as the military commander of the Volga Military District. But his rising fame invited the envy of many high-ranking officers, including Stalin.
On May 22, 1937, on Stalin’s instructions, he was arrested without any warrant or court orders. He was accused of plotting against the party and forced to confess under torture. In June, he and eight others were charged of plotting with "foreign" elements during his European visit to overthrow the Communist government
His execution led to the beginning of the infamous Stalinist purges.
Awards & Achievements
After serving in WWI, Mikhail Tukhachevsky received several imperial awards like ‘Order of St. Anne’, ‘Order of St. Stanislaus’ and ‘Order of St. Vladimir’.
In 1919, he was honoured with ‘Order of the Red Banner’.
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In 1933, he was awarded the ‘Order of Lenin’.
In 1935, he was one of the first five military commanders in the history of the country to be made ‘Marshal of the Soviet Union’.
In 1963, a postal stamp was issued in his honour.
Family & Personal Life
Mikhail Tukhachevsky was married to Nina Tukhachevskaya. They had a daughter.
He loved playing the violin, admired Beethoven’s music and often played with Dmitri Shostakovich, a famous Russian musician.
On 12 June 1937, he was executed on charges of treason. His family, including his wife and brothers, were also executed immediately after his death.
His sisters and daughter were sent to labour camps called ‘Gulag’.
In 1956, the Soviet politician, Nikita Khrushchev put forth a case of his innocence. In 1957, Mikhail Tukhachevsky was cleared of all charges and posthumously became a celebrated war hero in the country.
Many historians believe that he was of Turkish and Flemish ancestry dating back to the Crusades.
He is said to have been a violinist as well as a violin maker.

See the events in life of Mikhail Tukhachevsky in Chronological Order

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