Leonid Brezhnev

Leonid Brezhnev
Леонид Брежнев
Leonid Brezhnev Portrait (1).jpg
Brezhnev in East Berlin in 1967
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
In office
14 October 1964 – 10 November 1982
Preceded byNikita Khrushchev
Succeeded byYuri Andropov
Chairman of the
Presidium of the Supreme Soviet
In office
16 June 1977 – 10 November 1982
Preceded byNikolai Podgorny
Succeeded byYuri Andropov
In office
7 May 1960 – 15 July 1964
Preceded byKliment Voroshilov
Succeeded byAnastas Mikoyan
Additional positions
Second Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
In office
21 June 1963 – 14 October 1964
Preceded byFrol Kozlov
Succeeded byNikolai Podgorny
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan
In office
8 May 1955 – 6 March 1956
Preceded byPanteleimon Ponomarenko
Succeeded byIvan Yakovlev
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Moldova
In office
3 November 1950 – 16 April 1952
Preceded byNicolae Coval
Succeeded byDimitri Gladki
Personal details
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev

(1906-12-19)19 December 1906
Kamenskoye, Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Russian Empire (Now Ukraine)
Died10 November 1982(1982-11-10) (aged 75)
Zarechye, near Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Cause of deathHeart attack
Resting placeKremlin Wall Necropolis, Moscow
CitizenshipRussian EmpireSoviet Union
Political partyCommunist Party of the Soviet Union
ChildrenGalina Brezhneva
Yuri Brezhnev
ResidenceZarechye, near Moscow
ProfessionMetallurgical engineer, civil servant
AwardsHero of the Soviet Union (four times)
Hero of Socialist Labor
(Full list of awards and decorations)
Military service
AllegianceSoviet Union
Branch/serviceRed Army
Soviet Army
Years of service1941–1982
RankMarshal of the Soviet Union
CommandsSoviet Armed Forces
Battles/warsWorld War II

Leader of the Soviet Union

Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (f/;[1] Russian: Леонид Ильич Брежнев, IPA: [lʲɪɐˈnʲid ɪˈlʲjidʑ ˈbrʲeʐnʲɪf] (About this soundlisten); Ukrainian: Леонід Ілліч Брежнєв, 19 December 1906 (O.S. 6 December 1906) – 10 November 1982)[2] was a Soviet politician. The fifth leader of the Soviet Union, he was General Secretary of the Central Committee of the governing Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) from 1964 until his death in 1982. Ideologically, he was a Marxist-Leninist. He presided over the Soviet Union's greatest involvement in world affairs, including détente with the West. But he also increasingly confronted the Sino-Soviet split, which divided and weakened communist parties across the world. In domestic affairs, he presided over a steady decline in morale, marked by corruption, inefficiency, and rapidly widening weakness in technological advances, especially computers. Nevertheless, he was a force for political stability inside the Kremlin, maintaining his power despite his rapidly declining health after 1975.

Brezhnev was born to a Russian worker's family in Kamenskoye in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine). After graduating from the Kamenskoye Metallurgical Technicum, he became a metallurgical engineer in the iron and steel industry. After the October Revolution led to the formation of a one-party state led by the Communist Party, Brezhnev joined the party's youth league, Komsomol, in 1923, and became an active party member by 1929. Upon the German invasion in 1941, he joined the Army and held increasingly important political posts as the Communist Party closely monitored the generals. After the war he rose steadily in the top ranks of the party, and became a protégé of Joseph Stalin. In 1952 Brezhnev was promoted to the Central Committee and in 1957 to full member of the Politburo. In 1964 he ousted Nikita Khrushchev and took over as First Secretary of the CPSU, the most powerful position in the Kremlin.

As the leader of the Soviet Union, Brezhnev's conservatism and carefulness to reach decisions through consensus in the Politburo resulted in sustained political stability in the party and the country. On the world stage, he pushed hard for détente to relax tensions and foster economic cooperation between the two Cold War superpowers. Brezhnev's health rapidly deteriorated after 1975 and he increasingly withdrew from international affairs. Détente finally collapsed after the Politburo decided to invade Afghanistan in 1979. The widespread boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics was a bitter humiliation.

Brezhnev's hostility to reform and tolerance of corruption ushered in a period of socioeconomic decline known as the Brezhnev Stagnation. His regime presided over widespread military interventionism and a massive arms buildup that ultimately grew to comprise 12.5% of the nation's GNP. In terms of technology, especially computers, the Soviet Union fell further and further behind the West. After years of declining health, Brezhnev died on 10 November 1982 and was quickly succeeded as General Secretary by Yuri Andropov. Upon coming to power in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev denounced the Brezhnev administration's pervasive inefficiency and inflexibility before overseeing steps to liberalize the Soviet Union.

During Brezhnev's rule the Soviet Union's global influence grew dramatically, in part because of the expansion of its military. Brezhnev's 18-year term as General Secretary was second only to Stalin's in duration.

Early life and career

Origins (1906–1939)

Young Brezhnev with his wife Viktoria

Brezhnev was born on 19 December 1906 in Kamenskoye, Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Russian Empire (now Kamianske, Ukraine), to metalworker Ilya Yakovlevich Brezhnev and his wife, Natalia Denisovna Mazalova. His parents lived in Brezhnevo (Kursky District, Kursk Oblast, Russia) before moving to Kamenskoe. Brezhnev's ethnicity was given as Ukrainian in some documents, including his passport,[3][4][5] and Russian in others.[6][7]

Like many youths in the years after the Russian Revolution of 1917, he received a technical education, at first in land management and then in metallurgy. He graduated from the Kamenskoye Metallurgical Technicum in 1935[8] and became a metallurgical engineer in the iron and steel industries of eastern Ukraine.

Brezhnev joined the Communist Party youth organisation, the Komsomol, in 1923, and the Party itself in 1929.[7] In 1935 and 1936 he served his compulsory military service, and after taking courses at a tank school, he served as a political commissar in a tank factory. Later in 1936, he became director of the Dniprodzerzhynsk Metallurgical Technicum (a technical college; in 1936 Kamenskoye was renamed Dniprodzerzhynsk[9]) and was transferred to the regional center of Dnipropetrovsk. In 1939 he became Party Secretary in Dnipropetrovsk,[8] in charge of the city's defence industries. As a survivor of Stalin's Great Purge of 1937–39, he was able to advance quickly, as the purges created numerous openings in the senior and middle ranks of the Party and state governments.[7]

World War II (1941–1945)

Brigade commissar Brezhnev (right) presents a Communist Party membership card to a soldier on the Eastern Front in 1943.

When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, Brezhnev was, like most middle-ranking Party officials, immediately drafted. He worked to evacuate Dnipropetrovsk's industries to the eastern Soviet Union before the city fell to the Germans on 26 August, and then was assigned as a political commissar. In October Brezhnev was made deputy of political administration for the Southern Front, with the rank of Brigade-Commissar (Colonel).[10]

When the Germans occupied Ukraine in 1942, Brezhnev was sent to the Caucasus as deputy head of political administration of the Transcaucasian Front. In April 1943 he became head of the Political Department of the 18th Army. Later that year, the 18th Army became part of the 1st Ukrainian Front, as the Red Army regained the initiative and advanced westward through Ukraine.[11] The Front's senior political commissar was Nikita Khrushchev, who had supported Brezhnev's career since the prewar years. Brezhnev had met Khrushchev in 1931, shortly after joining the Party, and as he continued his rise through the ranks, he became Khrushchev's protégé.[12] At the end of the war in Europe, Brezhnev was chief political commissar of the 4th Ukrainian Front, which entered Prague in May 1945, after the German surrender.[10]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Leonid Brezjnef
aragonés: Leonid Brezhnev
asturianu: Leonid Brézhnev
Aymar aru: Leonid Brezhnev
azərbaycanca: Leonid Brejnev
Bân-lâm-gú: Leonid Brezhnev
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Леанід Брэжнеў
български: Леонид Брежнев
brezhoneg: Leonid Brejnev
Esperanto: Leonid Breĵnev
français: Léonid Brejnev
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Leonid Brezhnev
Bahasa Indonesia: Leonid Brezhnev
íslenska: Leoníd Bresnjev
kernowek: Leonid Brezhnev
Кыргызча: Леонид Брежнев
Lëtzebuergesch: Leonid Iljitsch Brejnew
lumbaart: Leonid Brežnev
македонски: Леонид Брежнев
Malagasy: Leonid Brezhnev
მარგალური: ლეონიდ ბრეჟნევი
مازِرونی: برژنف
Bahasa Melayu: Leonid Brezhnev
Nederlands: Leonid Brezjnev
norsk nynorsk: Leonid Brezjnev
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Leonid Brejnev
português: Leonid Brejnev
română: Leonid Brejnev
Runa Simi: Leonid Brezhnev
sicilianu: Leonid Brežnev
Simple English: Leonid Brezhnev
slovenščina: Leonid Brežnjev
српски / srpski: Леонид Брежњев
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Leonid Brežnjev
татарча/tatarça: Леонид Брежнев
Türkçe: Leonid Brejnev
Tiếng Việt: Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev
Yorùbá: Leonid Brezhnev