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Research paper focusing on a subject relating to a particular aspect of the Russian/Soviet military establishment. Project can be on a historical battle, a military general or political leader.

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The ‘inciting incident’ for this discussion is Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky’s famously stubborn standoff with Stalin on the planning for the Bobruisk Offensive of Operation Bagration. The incident will be described in as much detail as possible below, given source material limitations. The reason the incident is worthy of attention is the extent to which Rokossovsky was acting in opposition to Stalin not just in the moment and on operational details but, vitally, also in opposition to the context Stalin created through his recent and terrible purge of the Red Army command. One motivation—and, thus, a rubric or thesis—for considering Rokossovsky’s actions is that it is important to try to understand why the disagreement occurred; much of the readily-available source material provides near-zero commentary on the reasons and motivations of the two men.
So, one goal is to attempt to flesh out as far as possible an explanatory account for why Stalin and Rokossovsky behaved the way they did during that pivotal meeting. More broadly, however, there is a point of enduring value that may be made here: When institutions are gutted, and when ‘leadership’ becomes the province of caprice and paranoia, the processes which depend on those institutions become prone to failure – and people like Rokossovsky have little choice but to assume the greatest of risk to ensure that the responsibilities of leadership are discharged as competently and as responsibly as possible.
Yezhovshchina – The Great Purge
A short bloody line is readily traced between, on one hand, the caprice, uncertainty, and unreliability of Stalin’s command of the Red Army against the Germans, and, on the other, his staggering purge of the Red Army’s command from 1936 to 1938. One critical aspect of the Yezhovshchina specific to the Red Army was that it constituted a brutally efficient reshaping from the old “dual command” structure. Predicated on the notion of a “politically...

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