Mikhail Tukhachevsky

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I am convinced that all that is needed in order to achieve what I want is bravery and self-confidence. I certainly have enough self-confidence...I told myself that I shall either be a general at thirty, or that I shall not be alive by then.

Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky (February 16 [O.S. February 4] 1893June 12, 1937) was a Soviet military commander, chief of the Red Army (1925–1928), and one of the most prominent victims of Stalin's Great Purge of the late 1930s. In 1935 Tukhachevsky was made a Marshal of the Soviet Union, aged only 42. It was subsequently alleged that during these visits he contacted anti-Stalin Russian exiles and began plotting against Stalin. Tukhachevsky was arrested on May 22, 1937, and charged with organization of "military-Trotskyist conspiracy" and espionage for Nazi Germany. After a secret trial, Tukhachevsky and eight other higher military commanders were convicted, and executed on June 12, 1937.


  • I am convinced that all that is needed in order to achieve what I want is bravery and self-confidence. I certainly have enough self-confidence...I told myself that I shall either be a general at thirty, or that I shall not be alive by then.
    • 1914. Quoted in "The Red Army" - Page 111 - by Michel Berchin, Eliahu Ben-Horin - 1942
  • Many desire it. We are a slack people but deeply destructive. Should there be a revolution, only God knows where it will end. I think that a constitutional regime would mean the end of Russia. We need a despot!
    • Speaking about revolution in Russia. Quoted in "The Red Army" - Page 112 - by Michel Berchin, Eliahu Ben-Horin - 1942
  • There can be no doubt that if we had been victorious on the Vistula, the revolutionary fires would have reached the entire continent.
    • Quoted in "A century's journey: how the great powers shape the world" - Page 175 - by Robert A. Pastor, Stanley Hoffmann - Political Science - 1999

About Tukhachevsky

  • Soviet preparations in the Far East, and the more general build-up of the Red Army, were well covered by Japanese intelligence, not least the development, by the end of 1935, of a 170-strong long-range Soviet bomber force able to reach Japan. In turn, the Japanese army produced plans for an invasion of the Soviet Far East and eastern Siberia. The Soviet government saw the challenge it faced in ideological and geopolitical terms. Reports in late 1935 about an Anti-Comintern Pact, which Japan, in fact, was to sign with Germany on 25 November 1936, led Soviet strategists to fear a war on two fronts, as opposed to their previous confidence that they would be able to fight on one front at a time. This fear prefigured their concern in the 1970s and 1980s about conflict with both the USA and China. In January 1936, Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky, the commander of the Red Army (who was to be shot on the night of 12 June 1937), pressed the Central Committee of the Communist Party on the need to confront the danger of simultaneous war with Germany and Japan. Concern about Japanese intentions towards neighbouring Mongolia led the Soviet Union to sign a pact of mutual assistance with Mongolia and to warn Japan against expanding there. Moreover, signing a non-aggression pact with China on 21 August 1937, and supplying Jiang Jieshi with plentiful arms, including 297 planes flown by Soviet pilots, and over 3,000 advisers, were steps taken by Stalin to divert Japan into a new intractable commitment in China. Full-scale war had broken out between Japan and China in July 1937, and Japan captured Beijing, Shanghai and the Chinese capital, Nanjing, that year.
  • I am also pretty sure that the purge in the Red Army had a great deal to do with Stalin's belief in an imminent war with Germany. What did Tukhachevsky stand for? People of the French Deuxieme Buereau told me long ago that Tukhachevsky was pro-German. And the Chechs told me the extraordinary story of Tukhachevsky's visit to Prague, when towards the end of a banquet - he had got rather drunk - he blurted out that an agreement with Hitler was the only hope for both Czechoslovakia and Russia. And he then proceeded to abuse Stalin. The Czechs did not fail to report this to Kremlin, and that was the end of Tukhachevsky - and so many of his followers.
    • Alexander Worth in his book Moscow 41. Quote from Harpal Brar's Perestroika - The complete collapse of revisionism, page 161.
  • Tukhachevsky hid Napoleon's baton in his rucksack.
    • Lazar Kaganovich -- Quoted in "Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar," - page 222 - by Simon Sebag Montefiore.
  • [A]ll the non-Stalinist versions concur in the following: the generals did indeed plan a coup d'état... The main part of the coup was to be a palace revolt in the Kremlin, culminating in the assassination of Stalin. A decisive military operation outside the Kremlin, an assault on the headquarters of the G.P.U., was also prepared. Tukhachevsky was the moving spirit of the conspiracy... He was, indeed, the only man among all the military and civilian leaders of that time who showed in many respects a resemblance to the original Bonaparte and could have played the Russian First Consul. The chief political commissar of the army, Gamarnik, who later committed suicide, was initiated into the plot. General Yakir, the commander of Leningrad, was to secure the co-operation of his garrison. Generals Uberovich, commander of the western military district, Kork, commander of the Military Academy in Moscow, Primakow, Budienny's deputy in the command of the cavalry, and a few other generals were also in the plot.
    • Isaac Deutscher in his Stalin: A Political Biography, second edition (London: Oxford University Press, 1967), pp. 360-361. Quote from Ludo Martens's Another view of Stalin, pp. 176.
  • Sedov (Trotsky's son) spoke a lot about the necessity of the maximum, the closest possible connections with Tukhachevsky, inasmuch as, in Trotsky's opinion, Tukhachevsky and the military group were to be the decisive force of the counter-revolutionary action. During the conversation it was also revealed that Trotsky entertained fears regarding Tukhachevsky 's Bonapartist tendencies. In the course of one conversation Sedov said that Trotsky in this respect even expressed the fear that if Tukhachevsky successfully accomplished a military coup, it was possible that he would not allow Trotsky into Moscow. . . . Trotsky therefore proposed that during the coup d'etat we should everywhere place our own people, people who would be faithful to Trotskyism and who could be relied upon as regards vigilance.
    • Arkady Rosengolts in the Trial of Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, p. 245-6. Quote from Harpal Brar's Trotskyism or Leninism?, p. 281.
  • An atmosphere of extreme tension reigned during this period; it was necessary to act without mercy. I think that it was justified. If Tukhachevsky, Yakir, Rykov and Zinoviev had started up their opposition in wartime, there would have been an extremely difficult struggle; the number of victims would have been colossal. Colossal. The two sides would have been condemned to disaster. They had links that went right up to Hitler. That far. Trotsky had similar links, without doubt. Hitler was an adventurist, as was Trotsky, they had traits in common. And the rightists, Bukharin and Rykov, had links with them. And, of course, many of the military leaders.
    • Interview with Vyacheslav Molotov. Quote from Ludo Martens's Another view of Stalin, pp. 177. Original quote from the Russian version of F. Chueva Sto sorok besed s MOLOTOVYM (Moscow: Terra, 1991), p. 413 (The quote does not appear in the French translation: Félix Tchouev, Conversations avec Molotov (Paris: Albin Michel, 1995).) The quote can also be found here [1]
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