The first major biography of Marshal Konev claims the status of canonical
There were three of them - those to whom Stalin entrusted the capture of Berlin: Zhukov, Rokossovsky and Konev. The latter, according to the bibliography given by Sergey Mikheenkov, only in 2013, was awarded the first big biography (personal memoirs and memoirs of relatives do not count).
The Russian Planet, with the permission of the Young Guard publishing house, publishes a fragment of the biography of Marshal Ivan Konev written by Sergey Mikheenkov on the post-war relationship between Konev and Marshal Zhukov.
Among the military, we have long discussed one topic: the war is over, the work is done, the Boss is no longer needed, will bring closer and keep the most obedient and obsequious, the rest ...
And now Konev was called by the Deputy Minister of the Armed Forces of the USSR Bulganin and informed that it was urgent to fly to Moscow for a meeting of the Supreme Military Council. Konev’s relations with Bulganin were always complicated, and therefore he didn’t expect anything good from this call.
Whether Konev knew the agenda of the meeting of the Supreme Military Council is unknown. Apparently he soon found out. And consultations among the marshals, too, as you can imagine, took place. Otherwise, it is impossible to explain their fairly solid front, which they built during an attempt by party officials to destroy Marshal Pobeda Zhukov.
As you know, 31 May 1946, a few hours before the emergency meeting, a search was conducted at Zhukov's dacha. There is conflicting information about this event. Some biographers of Marshal Victory say that the search was conducted behind the scenes, that things were not withdrawn, but were only recorded in the list, which was then filed in the “Zhukov Case”. For a secret search, as you understand, the order was not issued because it was conducted not with the knowledge of the prosecutor, but with the knowledge of, most likely, Comrade Abakumov at the “request” of Comrade Stalin. Zhukov himself in his "Memories ..." told a completely different history: the search did not take place, because he threatened weapons and sent from his dacha "three good fellows" and so on.
But back to our hero.
Konev urgently flew to Moscow. 2 June 1946, Antonina Vasilievna, left alone at the resort in anxious anticipation, received a letter.
“Tony, honey! Yesterday the decision was made, and I was appointed instead of Zhukov. The owner offered to stay in Moscow and get to work. In this regard, you, my baby, also need to stop treatment, collect everything, pay for it, and go by car to Baden. There, in Baden, to load all valuables on the plane and fly to Moscow itself. In the plane, be sure to take my safe with documents, a suitcase with parade uniform, a suitcase with civilian suits and my jackets, a greatcoat. You will have a lot of trouble, but what should you do? Give my thanks to all the medical staff who treated and served us. Apparently, I will not come to Baden, and if I fly, I will call you in advance. Well, my dear, be careful and strict in everything. Miss you. I will wait for you with impatience. I kiss you tightly, your Vanya. "
And in Moscow, meanwhile, an event occurred that for almost seven decades, military historians and interpreters of Soviet politics of the second half of the 1940-s have been concerned.
The post-war policy of the country did not involve too much influence of the military. The war is over. Stalin no longer needed marshals and generals, especially those who knew how to take on a lot of responsibility and act independently, who felt the taste of this independence and power. Moreover, Stalin felt the danger emanating from them. The one whom he so elevated and generously showered with awards was especially dangerous, - Marshal Zhukov. George the Victorious, as he was sometimes called the environment. This was also reported to the leader.
Stalin himself led a meeting of the Supreme Military Council. He asked the Secretary of the Council, General Shtemenko, then the head of the Main Operations Directorate, to read out the interrogation materials of the Chief Marshal aviation Novikov, who was arrested in April and did his best to testify to the MGB investigators. The former SMERSH chief, and now the Minister of State Security, General Abakumov, daily reported to his "confessions" to the Boss.
When Shtemenko’s report sounded not only about Bonapartism Zhukov, but also about the fact that he was allegedly preparing a military conspiracy, the marshals realized that their hour had come. Today - Zhukov. Tomorrow - they are.
After General Shtemenko, Stalin spoke. He said that Zhukov appropriates all the victories of the Red Army, which, speaking at a press conference in Berlin, giving an interview for the Soviet and foreign press, “Zhukov repeatedly stated that all the main operations in the Great Patriotic War were successfully carried out because ideas were laid by him. "
Stalin pointed his finger at the former members of the Supreme High Command Headquarters and the members of the State Defense Committee, who now represented the Politburo and the Supreme Military Council, and said:
“So we were all fools?” Only one comrade Zhukov was clever, ingenious in planning all strategic operations during the Great Patriotic War?
Stalin ended his speech with this semi-rhetorical question, inviting all those present, including the marshals, to comment on Zhukov in order to "decide how to deal with him."
All those present understood that it would not be possible to get out of the show. Need to talk. And to speak means to express your position.
This is where the moment of truth came. The speeches were different in spirit and meaning. Some took a firm stand and, criticizing Zhukov’s personal human and business qualities, nevertheless recognized his military merit and loyalty to the party, to the government and personally to Comrade Stalin.
Most of the publications about this meeting say that, they say, the military did not give Marshal of Victory to be torn apart, and that the first deputy commander of the armored and mechanized troops, Marshal Rybalko, allegedly saved the word. It is true that Pavel Semenovich Rybalko spoke out resolutely for Zhukov’s political honesty, for acknowledging his many military merits. But the tone was set first by the speaker, Marshal Konev. And here we must be historically accurate. And what does it mean at such a meeting to say the first word across the word of the Host, it is hardly necessary to explain. No one has yet denied the accuracy of the atmosphere transferred to Konevoy, which reigned in the conference room, and the essence of what he said.
Konev said that Zhukov’s character was uneasy, "unsociable, difficult." He named flaws in the work of Zhukov, and then summed up:
“But if Zhukov was a dishonest person, he would hardly, with such perseverance, risking his life, follow the Stake’s orders, go to the most dangerous sectors of the front, crawl on his belly along the front line, watch the actions of the troops, assess the situation on the spot and help command in making certain decisions. A dishonest person, the more politically dishonest the Boe, will not keep himself that way!
Stalin suddenly realized that the situation was slipping from his hands. But he stood and waited for the end of speeches, without interrupting anyone. And only when the response word of repentance was given to Zhukov, did Stalin interrupt him and say, pointing his finger at Konev:
- Comrade Konev, he even assigned authorship to your Korsun-Shevchenko operation!
Throwing this remark, Stalin, of course, understood that he himself had taken a lot from him in order to give it to another, and when he got hot, he realized that his calculation that the Marshals Rokossovsky and Konev surrounded by Berlin triumph were above his hopes, Caucasian blown up: "He appropriated! .."
Broken German equipment at the site of the liquidation of the Korsun-Shevchenko group of Nazis. Photo: Alexander Kapustiansky / RIA News
But Stalin and this time was wiser than his innate rage, he gave way to the military. He yielded, knowing full well that it was precisely with this concession that he finally stopped the liberty of the marshals, that they were now in his fist. But the marshals felt their strength and the fact that the war was not over and we had to keep the powder dry.
Konstantin Simonov was interested in that meeting. Simonov’s record remained - the answer of Marshal Konev to his question: “... After all the speeches, Stalin spoke. He again spoke harshly, but somewhat differently. Apparently, at first he had a plan to arrest Zhukov after this Military Council. But, having felt our internal, and not only internal, resistance, having felt a certain solidarity of the military in relation to Zhukov and an assessment of his activities, he, apparently, oriented himself and retreated from his original intention. So it seemed to me.
In the defense of Zhukov in the same tone as Konev, were marshals Rybalko, Rokossovsky, Army General Khrulev.
On June 9, 1946, Stalin issued an order No. 009, with which he, in all likelihood, wanted to belittle the authority of Marshal Victory also among the troops. The order, among other things, included such words: “It was further established that the liquidation of the Korsun-Shevchenko group of German troops was planned and carried out not by Marshal Zhukov, as he stated about this, but by Marshal Konev, and Kiev was not released with a blow the south of the Bukrinsky bridgehead, as proposed by Zhukov, as a blow from the north, for the Stavka considered the Bukryn bridgehead unsuitable for such a large operation.
It was finally established that, recognizing the merits of Marshal Zhukov during the capture of Berlin, it cannot be denied, as Marshal Zhukov does, that without a strike from the south of Marshal Konev’s troops and a strike from Marshal Rokossovsky’s troops from the north, Berlin would not be surrounded and taken at that time in which he was taken.
Marshals Zhukov, Konev and Rokossovsky, really the most brilliant and talented commanders of the Great Patriotic War and the whole of the Second World War, are often called the three Russian heroes. In fairness, it should be noted that one of the Russian war marshals was a Pole. But that's not the point. All three glorified the Russian arms, raised the spirit of the Russian soldier and brought victory to the Russian people, who personified all the peoples of the USSR at that time. But they, the epic warriors - Ilya Muromets, Dobrynya Nikitich and Alyosha Popovich - did not always get along with each other.
But worse, they still had a relationship with the princes ...
In the 1947 year, on the very eve of his 50 anniversary, Konev received a letter from Podosinovets: countrymen in Lodeyno, in the house of his grandfather, Ivan Stepanovich Konev, decided to arrange a marshal's museum, asked him, so to speak, blessings. Konev answered his countrymen with a warm letter. He sent gifts: seven boxes of books for a rural library. And in the spring, to the sowing campaign, in the order of deputy assistance - a brand new truck. In the same device of the museum countrymen refused. Then he passionately wanted to serve, he saw ahead prospects, he felt his strength. A museum at home ... It would have gotten to Stalin. Yes, and in the Politburo people are different ... Do not.
Khrushchev will also confront Konev with Zhukov. And this clash will be more cruel and have very painful consequences for both marshals.
1957 year. Zhukov's popularity has increased again. Khrushchev, once saved by Zhukov from defeat in the struggle for power with the Malenkov-Molotov group, decided to weaken the influence of the military. Indeed, in the event of a new aggravation of the struggle for power, they could have taken not his side ... Khrushchev, in order to crush all the marshals and generals in one fell swoop, struck at the main one — Zhukov.
Konevu in this party drakke not lucky most.
After the plenum of the CPSU Central Committee, when the marshals, including Rokossovsky, and Zakharov, and Chuikov, and Eremenko, and Sokolovsky, unanimously condemned Zhukov as a "presumptuous Bonapartist", Konev had the "honor" to sign the article prepared in the Central Committee. It was called "Strength of the Soviet Army and Fleet - in the leadership of the party, inextricably linked with the people. ” It spoke of Zhukov's Bonapartism, his mistakes in work and, first of all, the underestimation of the party’s role in the army.
Of course, then and now, it does not matter who wrote this article. It is important - who signed. Konev this time gave way. Paradoxically, but as a politician Khrushchev in a similar situation turned out to be stronger than his predecessor Stalin. He led the intrigue in such a way that a newspaper with an article against Bonapartism, Marshal Zhukov, was published in the newspaper Pravda, signed by his deputy yesterday, the most reliable subordinate.
When the courier delivered the text of the article from the Central Committee, Konev sat over it all night. Rules agreed on the phone. Tried to soften. Delayed deadlines. Khrushchev was constantly reported on Konev's "author's torment." Nikita Sergeevich gloated: "Try, do not try, anyway the article will follow your signature."
After reading the signed version of the article, Khrushchev immediately called him:
- Tomorrow in Pravda read your article. And without tricks. Got it?
Zhukov was mortally offended. Konev also felt guilty. Both understood that politicians are stronger than them. Divide and conquer ... But the feeling of insult for some time proved to be insurmountable.
Once they met on the street. We talked. Zhukov said:
- Ivan Stepanovich, write a refutation.
- Georgy Konstantinovich, you understand that no one will print it. This is the decision of the party, and in our country it is the law.
But there is another version of this story. Some researchers admit that Zhukov and Konev were indeed preparing a coup in the country. They were supported not only by Shtemenko and Moskalenko, but also by many military men. Including in military units, in districts. They say that when Khrushchev, then still a benevolent Zhukov, grateful for his salvation during the Kremlin intrigue, complained that, they say, now I would bring order to the MVD, but there is no suitable person, Zhukov unexpectedly, with soldier directness, reported: "There is such a person ". - “Who?” - “My deputy is Konev”. It was here that Khrushchev found a bald spot, he realized that these two of him were being shoved into two accounts ... Khrushchev, who had a sense of conspiracy and a sophisticated conspirator himself, outwitted his real and potential adversaries.
And Konev, signing the article, in these circumstances, chose between life and death. In the most literal sense. He well remembered how Khrushchev dealt with Beria, Merkulov, Kobulov and others. He knew why General Sudoplatov was sitting in a madhouse. So it was decided for him: to be shot or not to be shot. Like the American-German-Japanese spy. A fool, like Sudoplatov, he will not pretend. I didn't want to lay my head on the scaffold.
But Konev’s letter to Zhukov was said to be all the same. Its text has not been published anywhere yet. Perhaps it will someday become part of the history of the relationship between these two generals. Their final reconciliation took place on Konev's 70 anniversary, in an apartment on Granovsky Street (now Romanov Lane), when all his comrades and friends came to congratulate the marshal.
As Natalia Ivanovna Koneva recalls, that evening the atmosphere of military fraternity reigned in their house. Zhukov was one of the first to congratulate Konev on his birthday. And they embraced. Everyone closely watched their movements, their faces, their remarks. And everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Konstantin Simonov, who was also sitting at the festive table, later wrote about Zhukov: “His invitation to this day, to this house, to his arrival there had a special meaning. Fate turned out that for many years Zhukov and the owner of the house were separated from each other by circumstances that were dramatic for both, for each in its own way. ”