Lev Mekhlis

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Lev Zakharovich Mekhlis
Мехлис, Лев Захарович
Photo of Lev Zakharovich Mekhlis
Minister of state control of the Soviet Union
In office
19 March 1946 – 27 October 1950
Vice Chairman of People's Commissars of the USSR
In office
6 September 1940 – 15 May 1944
State control of the USSR
In office
6 September 1940 – 21 June 1941
Personal details
Born (1889-01-13)13 January 1889
Odessa Russian Empire
Died 13 February 1953(1953-02-13) (aged 64)
Moscow
Resting place Kremlin Wall Necropolis
Citizenship Soviet Union
Nationality Jew
Political party The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1918-53)
Poale Zion (1907-11)
Alma mater Institute of Red Professors
Signature Lev Mekhlis's signature
Military service
Years of service 1911-20, 1941-45
Awards Order of Military Valour grade 4

Lev Zakharovich Mekhlis (January 13, 1889, Odessa – February 13, 1953, Moscow) was a Soviet politician.

Career[edit]

He finished six classes of Jewish commercial school. In 1904-1911 he worked as a schoolteacher. In 1907-1910 he was a member of the Zionist workers movement Poale Zion.

From 1911 he was in the Russian army. He served in the second grenadier artillery brigade. In 1912 he obtained the rank of bombardier. He served in the artillery in the 1914-17 war.

In 1918 he joined the Communist Party and until 1920 he did political work in the Red Army (commissioner of brigade, then 46th division, group of forces). In 1921-1922 – he was the manager of administrative inspection in the People's commissariat of worker-peasant inspection (Peoples Commissar (Narkom) I. V. Stalin). In 1922-1926 – he was the assistant to the secretary and the manager of the bureau of the secretariat of the Central Committee, in effect the personal secretary I. V. Stalin.

In 1926-1930 he took courses at the Communist Academy and in the Institute of Red Professors. From 1930 he was the head of the press corps Central Committee, and simultaneously a member of the editorial board, and then the editor in chief of the newspaper “Pravda”.

In 1937-1940 – he was the deputy of the Peoples Commissar of Defense and the chief of the main political administration of the Red Army. From 1939 he was the member of Central Committee the CPSU (he had been a candidate since 1934), in 1938-1952 – he was a member of the Orgburo of the Central Committee, in 1940-1941 - Peoples Commissar of State Control (Goskontrolya).

In June 1941 he was newly assigned by the chief of main political administration and the deputy of the Peoples Commissar of Defense. Mekhlis was named army commissar of the 1st rank, which corresponded to the title of General of the Army. In 1942 he was the representative of the Stavka (headquarters) of supreme commander-in-chief at the Crimean Front, where constantly he disputed with General Dmitry Timofeyevich Kozlov. The leaders of the staff of the Front did not know whose orders to carry out – the commander’s or Mekhlis’s.

The commander of the North-Caucasian Front, Marshal Semyon Budyonny, also could not control Mekhlis, who had no desire to be subordinated, only recognising orders which came directly from the Stavka. Mekhlis during a stay at the post of the representative of Stavka was occupied by the fact that it wrote sufficiently critical reports to the senior officers.

After one of such report from the post of the chief of staff of front was taken the Major General Tolbukhin, which had carelessness in contrast the instruction of Stalin to express opinion about the need for the front considering the need for being defended. So it attempted through the Stavka to replace the front commander, Kozlov, with Konstantin Rokossovsky or Klykov. At the same time in reports to Stalin he attempted to be distance himself from the failures, which the Crimean Front suffered, and to lay entire responsibility on the front commander.

In regard to this, Stalin sent a telegram to Mekhlis, in which he subjected to his rigid criticism for similar behavior: You are held the strange position of outside observer, who does not correspond to the matters of the Crimean Front. This position is very convenient, but it is rotten right through. At the Crimean Front you are not an outside observer, but the responsible representative of Stavka, who is responsible for all successes and failures on the front and who is obligated to correct errors of command on the spot. You, together with the commander, answer for the fact that the left flank of the front proved to be weak there from the hands. If “the entire situation showed that from the morning the enemy will begin,” and you did not take every measure to repulse it, after limiting to passive criticism, then those worse for you. It means, you yet did not understand that you were sent to the Crimean Front, not as the state control, but as the responsible representative of Stavka. You require that we would replace Kozlov whom, or like Hindenburg. But you cannot but know that we do not have any in Hindenburgs's reserve. The matters in your Crimea are simple, and you could manage them yourselves. If you used attack aviation not on side-line matters, but against the tanks and the live enemy target, the enemy would not break through the front and the tanks would not get through. It is not necessary to be by Hindenburg in order to understand this simple thing, sitting two months on the Crimean Front. I.Stalin"

After the crushing defeat in May 1942 on the Crimean Front (of 250,000 soldiers and officers on the Crimean Front in 12 days of fighting 162,282 people - 65% were lost forever) he was taken from the post of the deputy people's commissar of defense and the chief of the main political administration of the Red Army, he was reduced in rank by two levels - to the corps commissar.

In 1942-1946 – he was a member of the military council of a number of armies and fronts, from December 6, 1942 – he was a lieutenant general, from July 29, 1944 he was a colonel general. In 1946-1950 – he was the minister of government control of the USSR.

On October 27, 1950 he was discharged due to his health. He died in February 1953. His ashes were interred at the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in Red Square.

Lev Mekhlis was awarded four Orders of Lenin, five other orders and numerous medals.

Publications[edit]

  • The Red Army Today / Speeches Delivered [by K Voroshilov, L Mekhlis, S Budyonny, and G Stern] at the Eighteenth Congress of the CPSU(B), March 10–21, 1939, by Kliment Voroshilov, Lev Mekhlis, Semyon Budyonny, Grigori Stern, pub Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1939
  • The U.S.S.R. and the Capitalist Countries, edited by Lev Mekhlis, Y Varga, and Vyacheslav Karpinsky, pub Moscow, 1938, reprinted University Press of the Pacific, 2005, ISBN 978-1410224194

References[edit]

  • Rubtsov, Yuri V [Рубцов Ю В], Alter ego to Stalin [Alter ego Сталина], pub Zvonnitsa-MG, Moscow, 1999, ISBN 978-5880930562
  • Rubtsov, Yuri V [Рубцов Ю В], Mekhlis, Shadow Leader [Мехлис: Тень вождя], pub Veche, Moscow, 2011. Part of the series: Military Secrets of the 20th Century [Военные тайны XX века], ISBN 978-5-9533-5781-4

External links[edit]