Fyodor Ivanovich Tolbukhin

Fyodor Ivanovich Tolbukhin (1894 - 1949) - soviet military commander.

He was born into a peasant family.

He volunteered for the Imperial Army in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I. He was steadily promoted, advancing from private to captain by 1916. He was also decorated for bravery multiple times.

In August 1918 Tolbukhin joined the Red Army, where he served as the chief of staff of the 56th infantry division. After the Russian Civil War ended (1921), Tolbukhin was given a number of staff positions. He also attended the Frunze Military Academy for advanced staff training, graduating in 1931. In 1937, after a series of staff positions, Tolbukhin was given command of a division. In 1938, he was made chief of staff of the Transcaucasus Military District.

Tolbukhin remained in this position through the opening phases of Operation Barbarossa until August 1941, when he was made the chief of staff of the Crimean Front, which he held until March 1942. From May to July 1942, he was the assistant commander of the Stalingrad Military District. After that, he was the commander of the 57th Army until March 1943. The 57th was involved in the Battle of Stalingrad, where Tolbukhin's superior, Colonel-General Andrei Yeremenko, praised his command organization and military prowess. After his command of the 57th, Tolbukhin was placed in command of the Southern Front.

In October 1943 the Southern Front was renamed 4th Ukrainian Front. Tolbukhin assisted Rodion Malinovsky's 3rd Ukrainian Front, and together the two liberated most of the Ukraine from German forces. This Soviet Winter Counteroffensive lasted until April 1944. In May 1944, Tolbukhin was transferred to control of 3rd Ukrainian Front. During the Summer Campaign, from June to October 1944, Tolbukhin and Malinovsky launched their invasion of the Balkans and were able to conquer most of Romania. On September 12, 1944, two days after Malinovsky was promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union, Tolbukhin was promoted to the same rank. While Malinovsky moved northwest, towards Hungary and Yugoslavia, Tolbukhin launched his invasion south, thereby liberating most of Bulgaria. Starting in the Winter Campaign, Tolbukhin shifted his army to the northwest axis, thereby liberating much of Yugoslavia and invading southern Hungary.

After the war, Tolbukhin was commander-in-chief of the Southern Group of Forces, which comprised the Balkan region. In January of 1947, Tolbukhin was made the commander of the Transcaucasus Military District, a post he held until his death, on October 17, 1949.

Tolbukhin is generally regarded as one of the finest Soviet generals of World War II. Meticulous, careful, and not overly ambitious like some Soviet commanders, Tolbukhin was well respected by fellow commanders and also his men, especially since he had a dedication to keeping casualty rates low. Tolbukhin was the recipient of numerous awards and medals including the highest Soviet medal and rank, the Victory Order and Hero of the Soviet Union, respectively. Tolbukhin was also a hero of the nations he helped liberate. In Bulgaria, the city of Dobrich was renamed Tolbukhin, a name it held until the fall of communism in 1989. The urn containing his ashes is buried in the Kremlin, and there is a monument to him in his native Yaroslavl.