Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov

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Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Nikolay Gerasimovich Kuznetsov (Russian: Николай Герасимович Кузнецов) (July 24, 1904, Medvedki – December 6, 1974, Moscow) was a Soviet naval officer and People's Commissar of the Navy during World War II.



Early years and advancement

Kuznetsov was born into a family of Serbian immigrants in the village of Medvedki in the Kotlas district of Arkhangelsk Oblast.

In 1919, he joined the Soviet Northern Dvina Naval Flotilla, adding two years to his age to be accepted. His military service records give the year of his birth as 1902. From 1920 he was stationed at Petrograd and in 1924, as a member of a naval unit, he attended the funeral ceremony of Vladimir Lenin. That same year he joined the Bolshevik Party.

Upon graduation from the Frunze Higher Naval School in 1926, Kuznetsov served on the cruiser Chervona Ukraina, first as watch officer and then as First Lieutenant. He completed studies in operations and tactics at the operations department of Naval College in 1932. Upon graduation he was offered a choice of position: he could opt for a job on the staff or a command post on a ship.

Kuznetsov thought it unwise to let such an opportunity slip and he successfully applied for the post of executive officer on the cruiser Krasny Kavkaz ("Red Caucasus"). Within a year he had been promoted. In 1934 he returned to the Chervona Ukraina, this time as her commander. Under Kuznetsov, the ship became an outstanding example of discipline and organization, quickly attracting attention to her young captain.

From September 5, 1936 to August 15, 1937, Kuznetsov was the naval attache and chief naval advisor to Republican Spain. While serving in Spain he developed a strong dislike of fascism.

On returning home, on January 10, 1938, he was promoted to Flagman, 2nd rank, and given command of the Pacific fleet. While in this position, he came face to face with Stalin's purge of the military. Kuznetsov himself was never implicated, but many of the officers under his command were. Kuznetsov resisted the purges at every step, and his intervention saved the lives of many Soviet officers.

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