Hamazasp Babadzhanian

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Hamazasp Babadzhanian
Hamazasp Babadzhanian.jpg
Marshal of the Armored Corps Hamazasp Babadzhanian.
Native name Armenian: Համազասպ Բաբաջանյան
Russian: Амазасп Хачатурович Бабаджанян
Born (1906-02-18)18 February 1906
Chardakhlu, Russian Empire
Died 1 November 1977(1977-11-01) (aged 71)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Buried at Kremlin Wall Necropolis
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Service/branch Armored Corps
Years of service 1925–1977
Rank Chief Marshal
Commands held 3rd Mechanized Brigade
20th Tank Brigade
11th Guards Tank Corps
Odessa Military District
Battles/wars Soviet-Finnish War
World War II
Hungarian Revolution of 1956
Awards Hero of the Soviet Union — 1944 Order of Lenin (4)
Order of the Red Star (2)
see below

Hamazasp Khachaturi Babadzhanian (Armenian: Համազասպ Խաչատուրի Բաբաջանյան; Russian: Амазасп Хачатурович Бабаджанян, Amazasp Khachaturovich Babadzhanyan; 18 February 1906 – 1 November 1977) was a Soviet military commander, veteran of the Second World War, and Chief Marshal of the Tank and Armored Troops of the Soviet Union.[1]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Babadzhanian was born into an impoverished Armenian family in the village of Chardakhlu near Yelizavetpol (later Kirovabad, now Ganja, Azerbaijan), then part of the Russian Empire. Ivan Bagramyan, a fellow Armenian who would also go on to become a Marshal of the Soviet Union, was born in the same village. Babadzhanian attended the local, four-year primary school in Chardakhlu before moving to Tiflis (Tbilisi) in 1915 to continue his education at an Armenian secondary school there. His family, however, was unable to support him financially for long and he was forced to return to home, where he went to work in the fields.[2]

In 1925, Babadzhanian applied to the Red Army's Alexander Miasnikyan Unified Military School in Yerevan, Armenia. The school was later relocated to Tbilisi and renamed the Transcaucasus United Infantry School, and he graduated from there as an officer in 1929.[1] He was given various postings throughout the Soviet Union, serving as a commander of a battalion and later as a deputy for the army corps based in the Transcaucasian Military District. Babadzhanian rounded out his studies at the Frunze Military Academy in 1937, attaining the rank of major. In 1938 he was appointed as deputy of the commander of a regiment in Leningrad before being sent to the front following the outbreak of the Finno-Soviet Winter War in 1939-1940.[3] He served with distinction in the fighting and was later given command of the 751st Rifle Regiment, based in the Northern Caucasus Military District.[1]

World War II[edit]

On July 5, a few weeks following Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, Babadzhanian was dispatched to Smolensk, where he assumed command of the 395th Rifle Regiment, 127th Rifle Division.[4] His unit was involved in a rearguard action during a temporary retreat, putting up stiff resistance against Axis forces before turning once again to the offensive. His unit was the first to re-enter the city of Yelnya on September 8, 1941, a feat which earned it permission to rest and refit in Kursk. Fighting, however, soon enveloped that part of Ukraine and Babadzhanian's regiment engaged Axis forces in Fatezh and assisted in the evacuation of Kursk.[3]

Over the course of 1942, Babadzhanian's unit increasingly took part in offensive operations. In the winter of 1941-42, his division was sent to the southwestern front.[5] In January, he was ordered to attack and capture German positions in the village of Sokolia Plota. Reconnaissance revealed that the Germans had concentrated there a force six times larger than his, a fact that forced him to launch an attack that would strike it on the flanks. His maneuver was successful in driving a wedge between the defending forces, which suffered heavy casualties and withdrew from their positions.[6] His regiment went on to capture the village of Vipolzovo and Shumakovo Station, the beginning terminus to the Kursk-Belgorod railway line, and drove deep into the region of Sedvenskiyi, south-east of Kursk. In September 1942, he was made commander the 3rd Mechanized Brigade of the Third Mechanized Corps.[1]

In July 1943, Babadzhanian's was sent north to take part in the Battle of Kursk. He was given command of the 20th Tank Brigade, which at the time was part of the Soviet Guards 8th Mechanized Corps. His brigade was tasked with blocking the Germans' northern and southern advances toward Kursk by taking up position at an intersection near Oboyan. The brigade sustained heavy losses from German armor assaults, and Babadzhanian himself was wounded during the course of the attacks. He rapidly recovered from his injuries and returned to active duty.[7] His unit was incorporated into the 1st Ukrainian Front and sent once more to take part in the struggle to evict the Axis out of Ukraine. Over the course of the winter of 1943-44 Babadzhanian's brigade participated in the liberation of the towns and villages of Vinnytsia, Zhmerynka, and Ternopil. The tanks under Babadzhanian's command distinguished themselves in particular in the battle of Koziatyn, which resulted in the annihilation of the German 70th Motorized Rifle Division and its two regiments.[7]

In March 1944, Babadzhanian led his brigade across the Dniester in a drive to retake the town of Stanislav. After eleven days of heavy fighting his forces took and occupied the right bank of the river. For its efforts, the commanders of the 8th Mechanized Corps on April 2 conferred upon Babadzhanian the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. From the summer of 1944 until 1945, his forces fought as part of the 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts. On August 25, 1944, Babadzhanian, then a lieutenant colonel, was made commander of the 11th Guards Tank Corps, part of the 1st Guards Tank Army.

In January 1945, as part of the Vistula–Oder Offensive, his armor provided heavy fire support for the units advancing into Poland, where they reduced the fortresses guarding the inner approaches into the country, and helped them in the capture of the cities of Łódź, Kutno, and Poznań. By the end of the month, Babadzhanian's corps had reached the borders of Germany and begun military operations to take Landsberg, Tczew, Wejherowo, and a host of other towns in Pomerania.[8][9] As part of the 1st Belorussian Front, on February 2, the 11th Tank Corps crossed the Oder and,[10] with artillery and air support, and took part in the capture of Frankfurt an der Oder. His forces arrived in time to take part in the battle for Berlin, fighting in heavy street battles, alongside units of the 1st Ukrainian Front, and participating in the seizure of the Reichstag.[11][12]

Later career[edit]

On July 11, 1945, Babadzhanian was promoted to major general in the Soviet tank forces. He graduated from the Military Academy of the General Staff in 1948, and was appointed with responsible command positions. Babadzhanian served as the 1st Deputy Commander of the Carpathian Military District from 1950 to 1951.

In November 1956, Babadzhanian led the 8th Mechanized Army to Budapest, during the Soviet intervention that led to the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. From 1959, he was commander-in-chief of the forces in the Odessa Military District.[1] From 1967 to 1969, he was the head of the Rodion Malinovsky Military Academy of Armored Forces and from May 1969, chief of the tank forces. Babadzhanian was a Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR during its sixth and seventh convocations. From 1969 to 1977, he was head of armored forces of the Soviet Army. Babadzhanian became Chief Marshal of the Tank and Armored Troops on April 29, 1975 (one of only two men to attain this rank)[13] and held the position until his death .

He died in Moscow on November 1, 1977 and was buried with full honors at the Kremlin Wall Necropolis.[14]

Memory[edit]

Babadzhanian, featured with Bagramyan, Isakov, and Khudyakov, on an Armenian stamp.

In 1978, an area in the North-Western Administrative District of Moscow was named after Babadzhanian. One of the streets in Yerevan is named after Babadzhanian. A street in Odessa was renamed the Marshal Babadzhanian Street on 22 December 2012.[15]

Published works[edit]

  • (Russian) Дороги Победы [The Road to Victory]. Moscow: Molodaia Gvardiia, 1972.
  • (Russian) Tанки и Tанковые Войска [Tanks and Tank Forces]. Moscow: Voenizdat, 1970.

Honours and awards[edit]

Babadzhanian was mentioned in orders from the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union 15 times, the 23rd most of all commanders.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e (Armenian) Anon. «Բաբաջանյան, Համազասպ Խաչատուրի» [Babajanyan, Hamazasp Khachaturi]. Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia. Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1976, vol. 2, p. 188.
  2. ^ (Armenian) Khaleyan, Yervand, "Համազասպ Խաչատուրի Բաբաջանյան," [Hamazasp Khachaturi Babadzhanian] in Գիրք հերոսների մասին [A book about heroes], Yervand Khaleyan et al. (eds.) Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1964, p. 23.
  3. ^ a b Khaleyan, "Hamazasp Khachaturi Babadzhanian," p. 24.
  4. ^ Babadzhanian, Hamazasp. Дороги Победы. Moscow: Molodaia Gvardiia, 1972, pp. 36ff.
  5. ^ Babadzhanian. Дороги Победы, p. 62.
  6. ^ Khaleyan, "Hamazasp Khachaturi Babadzhanian," pp. 24-25.
  7. ^ a b Khaleyan, "Hamazasp Khachaturi Babadzhanian," p. 25.
  8. ^ Babadzhanian. Дороги Победы, pp. 225-35.
  9. ^ Duffy, Christopher. Red Storm on the Reich: The Soviet March on Germany, 1945. London: Routledge, 1991, pp. 109-10.
  10. ^ Erickson, John. Stalin's War with Germany: The Road to Berlin. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999, p. 471.
  11. ^ Babadzhanian. Дороги Победы, pp. 269-82.
  12. ^ Soviet Military Review (1969), p. 51.
  13. ^ Parrish, Michael, "Armenian Military Leaders in the U.S.S.R.: Some Recent Publications," Armenian Review 29/4 (Winter 1976): p. 404.
  14. ^ (Russian) Амазасп Бабаджанян. Медиа группа armyane. Accessed 12 September 2009.
  15. ^ В Одессе появилась улица маршала и Героя Советского Союза Амазаспа Бабаджаняна - 22 Декабря 2012 - Аналитика - новости Украины (in Russian). Analitika.at.ua. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  16. ^ БЛАГОДАРНОСТЬ БЕЗ БЛАГОВОЛЕНИЯ (in Russian). Duel.ru. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 

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