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
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
Service/branchRed 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: Леони́д Ильи́ч Бре́жнев, IPA: [lʲɪɐˈnʲit ɪˈlʲjidʑ ˈbrʲeʐnʲɪf] (About this soundlisten); Ukrainian: Леоні́д Іллі́ч Бре́жнєв, 19 December 1906 (O.S. 6 December) – 10 November 1982)[2] was a Soviet politician of Ukrainian descent, who led the Soviet Union from 1964 until his death in 1982 as the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in duration. During Brezhnev's rule, the global influence of the Soviet Union grew dramatically, in part because of the expansion of its military during this time. His tenure as leader was also marked by the beginning of an era of economic and social stagnation in the Soviet Union.

Brezhnev was born in Kamenskoye in the Russian Empire (now Kamianske, Ukraine), into a Russian worker's family in 1906. After graduating from the Kamenskoye Metallurgical Technicum, he became a metallurgical engineer in the iron and steel industry, in Ukraine. He joined the Komsomol in 1923 and became an active member of the CPSU by 1929. With the onset of World War II, he was drafted into immediate military service and left the army in 1946 with the rank of major general. In 1952 Brezhnev was promoted to the Central Committee and in 1957 to full member of the Politburo. In 1964, he succeeded Nikita Khrushchev as First Secretary of the CPSU.

As the leader of the Soviet Union, Brezhnev's conservatism and carefulness to reach decisions by consensus within the Politburo resulted in sustained political stability within the party and the country. However, his hostility towards reform and tolerance of corruption ushered in a period of socioeconomic decline that came to be known as the Brezhnev Stagnation. On the world stage, Brezhnev pushed hard for the adoption of détente to relax tensions and foster economic cooperation between the two Cold War superpowers. Despite such diplomatic gestures, Brezhnev's regime presided over widespread military interventionism and a massive arms buildup that ultimately grew to comprise 12.5% of the nation's GNP.

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 his regime's pervasive inefficiency and inflexibility before overseeing steps to liberalize the Soviet Union.

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 used to live in Brezhnevo (Kursky District, Kursk Oblast, Russia) before moving to Kamenskoe. Brezhnev's ethnicity was specified as Ukrainian in main documents including his passport,[3][4][5] and Russian in some 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, Brezhnev 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 (technical college) (in 1936 Brezhnev hometown Kamenskoye was renamed to Dniprodzerzhynsk[9]). In 1936, he was transferred to the regional center of Dnipropetrovsk, and in 1939, he became Party Secretary in Dnipropetrovsk,[8] in charge of the city's important 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 east of the 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 Ukraine was occupied by the Germans 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 pre-war years. Brezhnev had met Khrushchev in 1931, shortly after joining the Party, and before long, 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