Tukhachevsky – Key Events
1893 - Born February 16th into a noble family.
1914 - Graduated from Alexandrovskoye Military School.
1914 - 1921 - Distinguished himself as an officer in both the First World War and the Russian Civil War (1917 – 1921).
1920 - Polish - Soviet War - harshly criticized by Stalin for failing to capture Warsaw. Tukhachevsky in turn blamed Stalin for the failure.
1929 - Stalin gains full control over the Soviet Communist Party.
1929 - Fellow officers of Tukhachevsky denounce him to Stalin, complaining about his tactical views.
1930 - OPGU (Soviet Secret Police) attempt to implicate Tukhachevsky in a plot to overthrow the Politburo. Stalin fails to convince his inner circle of Tukachevsky’s guilt.
1930s - Tukhachevsky writes several books on military strategy. Champions a new strategy termed “deep operations” where different branches of the military (e.g., Air Force, Army) launch a joint attack deep behind enemy lines.
The focus of “Deep Operations” was the destruction of the enemy’s rear operations and logistical capabilities. This concept was codified into the Red Army’s Provisional Field Regulations of 1936.
1935 - Tukhachevsky is appointed a Marshal of the Soviet Union.
1936 - Stalin begins planning the “liquidation” of Tukhachevsky and seven other senior military commanders.
May 22, 1937 - Tukhachevsky is arrested and brought back from the Volga region to stand trial.
June 11, 1937 - The Soviet Supreme Court convenes a special military tribunal to try Tukachevsky and his co-accused for treason. All of them are found guilty of treason and executed shortly thereafter.
Stalin’s Rationale for Purging Tukhachevsky and the Red Army
A number of rationales have been advanced for the Stalin’s assault on Mikhail Tukhachevsky and the Red Army.
The Alternative Explanation
Consequences of Stalin’s Red Army Purge
After the initial strike against Tukhachevsky, Stalin continued to root out “traitors” within the Red Army.
By some estimates, 30,000 members of the armed forces were executed. Of this number, 50% of all army officers perished in the Purge.
In the ensuing conflict with Germany, many of the Red Army’s new officers were quite inexperienced and ill prepared for the intense onslaught of Hitler’s Wehrmacht.