The career of Marshal Vasily Blucher, one of the most famous Soviet military leaders of the 1920s and 1930s, collapsed as rapidly as it skyrocketed. Its finale was the unsuccessful operation on Lake Hasan in 1938. During the battles with Japanese troops, Soviet units suffered heavy losses. The Red Army lost 960 people, while 650 people were killed on the Japanese side. According to the Soviet leadership, the commander of the Far Eastern Front, Marshal Vasily Blucher, was directly responsible for the failures.
On August 31, 1938, a debriefing took place at the Main Military Council of the Red Army in Moscow. It was attended by Stalin, Voroshilov, Budyonny, Shchadenko, Shaposhnikov, Kulik, Loktionov, Pavdov, Molotov, Frinovsky. Marshal Blucher was also summoned. On the agenda was the question of what happened at Lake Khasan, why Soviet troops suffered such losses and how the commander of the Far Eastern Front, Blucher, acted. By the way, from the post of commander, by the time of the "debriefing", Blucher had already been removed.
Indeed, the operation on Lake Khasan was not very successful due to the actions of the commander. Marshal Ivan Konev, for example, believed that Blucher simply did not have enough modern military knowledge - he stopped at the level of twenty years ago, the events of the Civil War, and this led to disastrous consequences for Soviet soldiers. The Marshal's self-confidence also played a role. He often acted independently and even contrary to the position of the country's central leadership. For example, when on July 20, 1938, Japan issued an ultimatum to the USSR, demanding the transfer of part of Soviet territory near Lake Khasan to Japan, Marshal Blucher, who commanded the Far Eastern Front, made an absolutely adventurous decision - to try to resolve the conflict between the USSR and Japan by peace.
Needless to say, the front commander did not and could not have the authority to conduct such negotiations. But Blucher, without notifying Moscow, sent a special commission to the border, which established that the allegedly Soviet border guards were to blame for violating the border by three meters. After that, Blucher made a new mistake - he contacted Moscow and began to demand the arrest of the head of the border section. But the Soviet leadership did not understand and did not approve of the marshal's initiative, demanding that Blucher immediately withdraw the commission and begin his direct duties - organizing a military rebuff to the impending Japanese attack.
Where did Marshal Blucher have such a desire for self-willed, independent actions, and even in 1938, when the government was as tough as possible to any deviations from the course. Many party and military leaders were punished for much less actions and much less strange initiatives. Apparently, Blucher was confident in his unsinkability - after all, luck had smiled at him for a long time, with a wide smile. So, shortly before the events on Lake Khasan, in December 1937, Vasily Blucher was elected a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, a little later he was included in the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Obviously, this circumstance also allowed Blucher to consider himself not only as a military leader, but also as a politician.
Vasily Blucher was among the first five Soviet military leaders who were awarded the rank of marshals. On November 21, 1935, People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR Kliment Voroshilov, Chief of Staff of the Red Army Alexander Egorov, Deputy People's Commissar of Defense Mikhail Tukhachevsky, inspector of cavalry of the Red Army Semyon Budyonny and Commander of the Special Far Eastern Army Vasily Blukher received the ranks of marshal. Moreover, the position that Blucher held did not imply such a high rank. It is obvious that Stalin viewed Blucher as a very promising military leader, who, in the foreseeable future, could, firstly, make great victories over a potential enemy - Japan, and secondly, take a higher position in the system of the People's Commissariat of Defense. At that time, Vasily Blucher was envied by many military leaders - the commander of the Special Far Eastern Army enjoyed the obvious sympathy of Stalin. At the same time, Blucher spent almost all of the 1920s and 1930s in the Far East - he never received a "Moscow" appointment and higher posts in the People's Commissariat of Defense.
For almost two decades, spent in the Far East, Blucher, apparently, felt himself almost the "master" of this vast and rich region. No joke - since 1921 to be the "main military power" of the entire Soviet Far East. On June 27, 1921, 31-year-old Vasily Blucher, who had previously commanded the 51st Infantry Division that fought in the Crimea, was appointed chairman of the Military Council, commander-in-chief of the People's Revolutionary Army of the Far Eastern Republic and Minister of War of the Far Eastern Republic. This is how the longest, Far Eastern epic in the life and career of Vasily Blucher began.
When in 1890 in the village of Barshinka, Rybinsk district, Yaroslavl province, in the family of the peasant Konstantin Blucher and his wife Anna Medvedeva, their son Vasily was born, no one could have imagined that in thirty years he would hold general positions. A year of study at a parish school - that was all the education of the future red marshal in those years. Then there was the "school of life" - a boy in a shop, a laborer at a machine-building plant in St. Petersburg, a locksmith at a carriage-building plant in Mytishchi. Young Blucher, like many representatives of the working youth of that time, was carried away by revolutionary ideas. He was fired from a plant in St. Petersburg for participating in rallies, and in 1910 he was arrested altogether for calling for a strike. However, in modern literature, they also cite another version - that Vasily Konstantinovich Blucher was not a worker and, moreover, a revolutionary at that time, but served as a clerk for a merchant's wife, simultaneously performing, let's say, duties of an intimate nature.
In 1914, the First World War began. 24-year-old Vasily Blucher was subject to conscription. He was enlisted in the 56th Kremlin reserve battalion, and then sent to the 19th Kostroma regiment of the 5th infantry division with the rank of private. Soon he was awarded the St. George Medal of the IV degree, was awarded the St. George Crosses of the III and IV degrees, and was promoted to junior non-commissioned officers. However, if the fact of awarding a medal is reliable, then historians do not find documentary information about the St. In any case, the fact that Blucher was seriously wounded by an exploded grenade is reliable. Blucher was taken to a military hospital, where he was literally pulled out of the afterlife. Due to his injuries, Blucher was discharged with a first-class pension.
Returning to civilian life, he got a job in a granite workshop in Kazan, then worked at a mechanical plant. In June 1916, Blucher became a member of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party of the Bolsheviks. He met the October Revolution in Samara, where he became a member of the Samara Military-Revolutionary Committee, assistant to the head of the Samara garrison and head of the provincial guard of the revolutionary order. It was with these middle-level positions that Vasily Blucher's military career in Soviet Russia began.
As the commissar of the combined detachment of the Ufa and Samara Red Guards, Blucher participated in hostilities in the Urals, where he headed the Chelyabinsk Military Revolutionary Committee. The workers' detachments of the Southern Urals operated in an extremely difficult situation. In the Consolidated Detachment of the South Ural partisans, Blucher became deputy commander. The detachment gradually expanded and included 6 rifle, 2 cavalry regiments, and an artillery division. By September 1918, this workers' army numbered about 10 thousand people and was soon transformed into the 4th Ural (from November 11, 1918 - the 30th) rifle division. Vasily Blucher was appointed commander of the rifle division. So the 28-year-old demobilized soldier, yesterday's worker with a one-year education, took the post of commander of a rifle division by the standards of the old army.
For 54 days, Blucher's detachments covered 1.5 thousand kilometers through hard-to-reach terrain - mountains, forests, swamps of the Southern Urals, defeating 7 enemy regiments. For this, Divisional Commander Vasily Blucher was awarded the Order of the Red Banner at number 1. Thanks to the Ural campaign, yesterday's unknown worker instantly entered the military elite of young Soviet Russia. On July 6, 1919, Blucher led the 51st Infantry Division, which marched from Tyumen to Lake Baikal. In July 1920, the division was transferred to the Southern Front to fight Wrangel, after the defeat of which the division was redeployed to Odessa, and Blucher, being its commander, became the chief of the Odessa garrison.
In June 1921, he became chairman of the Military Council, commander-in-chief of the People's Revolutionary Army of the Far Eastern Republic and Minister of War of the Far Eastern Republic. It was under the command of Blucher that the white formations of Baron Ungern, General Molchanov and others operating in Transbaikalia, Mongolia, and the Far East were defeated. Blucher's finest hour was the Volochaev offensive operation, after which the division commander was recalled to Moscow.
On April 27, 1923, Blucher was appointed temporarily acting head of the garrison of the city of Petrograd with the duties of the commander of the 1st rifle corps, since 1922 he was included in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. In the fall of 1924, Blucher, who already had experience of military operations in the Far East and Transbaikalia, was sent to China as a military adviser to Sun Yat-sen. Blucher stayed in China until 1927, after which he served as assistant to the commander of the Ukrainian Military District I. E. Yakir, and on August 6, 1929, he was appointed commander of the Special Far Eastern Army. Blucher spent the next nine years of his life in the Far East. In February 1934 he was elected a candidate member, and in 1937 - a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b).
Of course, for a person without education, it was a colossal career, from which one could easily get dizzy. And so it happened. Unfortunately, instead of raising his educational level, Blucher "went wild" - he began to drink heavily. Meanwhile, the situation in the region was heating up. On March 25, 1935, Blucher was sent a directive on the actions of the Special Red Banner Far Eastern Army in the event of a war with Japan, but on April 7, as Chief of Staff of the Red Army Yegorov reported in a report to Voroshilov, he “fell ill with a disease known to you” and did not get in touch until April 17. Naturally, this way of life impeded full command of the army.
Nevertheless, on June 2, 1937, Stalin gave the following description to the marshal: "Blucher is an excellent commander, knows his district and is doing a great job of educating the troops." A little over a year remained before the collapse of his career.
At the beginning of 1938, Blucher even asked Stalin about his confidence in himself, to which Joseph Vissarionovich replied that he completely trusts the marshal. On September 24, 1938, after the famous "debriefing" following the results of the battles on Lake Khasan, Blucher was recalled to Moscow and allocated an apartment in the Government House. Nevertheless, instead of settling in a new apartment, four days later, on September 28, Blucher and his family urgently left for Adler, to the Bocharov Ruchei residence, where he settled at Voroshilov's dacha. Apparently, rumors of possible problems have already reached him. Blucher and his family stayed at Voroshilov's dacha for almost a month.
On the morning of October 22, 1938, Marshal Vasily Blucher, his wife Glafira Lukinichna and brother Pavel were arrested. Blucher was taken to the Lubyanka, to the inner prison of the NKVD, where the marshal and yesterday's favorite of Stalin spent eighteen days. During this time, he was interrogated 21 times. Blucher testified against himself, in which he confessed to participating in an "anti-Soviet organization of the right", to a "military conspiracy", to sabotage in the military sphere, as well as, to "complete the picture", to drunkenness in the workplace and moral decay.
On November 9, 1938, at 22.50 hours, Vasily Blucher died suddenly in the prison doctor's office. According to the official autopsy results, the death of the marshal came from a blockage of the pulmonary artery by a blood clot in the veins of the pelvis. On the morning of November 10, Blucher's body was cremated. Many sources emphasize that Blucher's death was a natural consequence of the cruel torture and beatings that the marshal was subjected to during his eighteen-day imprisonment. Almost all members of Vasily Blucher's family were also repressed. They shot his first wife, Galina Pokrovskaya, whose marriage ended in 1924, i.e. 14 years before Blucher's arrest. The second wife, Galina Kolchugina, was also shot, and the third wife, Glafira Bezverkhova, was sentenced to 8 years in the camps. Blucher's brother Pavel, who served as the commander of an air link at the headquarters of the Air Force of the Far Eastern Front, was also shot. Blucher was rehabilitated in 1956. After rehabilitation, streets, settlements, schools, and motor ships were named in honor of Blucher.
Marshal Blucher can be considered one of the most controversial and mysterious figures in Soviet history in the 1920s and 1930s. Without diminishing his merits during the Civil War, it is nevertheless worth noting that many critical assessments of the military leader are really fair - this is a low level of education with a lack of desire to improve knowledge, and neglect of his duties, and arbitrariness in decision-making. But was Blucher really a member of the anti-Stalinist conspiracy? The answer to this question was long ago taken to the grave by the participants in those tragic events.