Kliment Efrimovich Voroshilov

Rank: Marshal of the USSR
Fate: Died Moscow 1969, aged 88
Bio: Voroshilov was one of the Bolshevik old guard, having joined the party in 1905 at the age of 25. He developed close ties with Joef Stalin, and when the Russian Revolution was followed by civil war, the two fought together in the defence of Tsaritsyn (in tribute to Stalin’s exaggerated role in the city’s defence, it was later renamed Stalingrad). When the Red Army invaded Poland in 1920 the two served alongside each other again as Political Commissars of Budyonny’s 1st Cavalry Army.
As a loyal Bolshevik with close connections to Stalin, Voroshilov rose rapidly in both political and military rank. He became a member of the Politburo and in 1934 was appointed People’s Commissar (Minister) of Defence. The next year he was promoted to Marshal. His loyalty and subservience to Stalin was total, and in 1937 during Stalin’s Great Purge, he readily turned against former army comrades, ensuring their demise.
When the Soviet Union went to war with Finland in 1939, the disarray of the Red Army following the Purges and Voroshilov’s own incompetence were exposed to the world in a string of humiliating setbacks. Voroshilov was demoted, and his place taken by Marshal Timoshenko.
During the crisis that followed the German invasion in 1941, Stalin sent Voroshilov to oversee the defence of Leningrad. But despite plenty of evidence of his own bravery, making regular visits to heavily-shelled areas of the frontline, Voroshilov failed to stem the German advance. It was only when General Zhukov arrived to take charge that the situation was stabilised.
Voroshilov was effectively side-lined for the rest of the war. He had never got to grips with the developments in warfare since his own frontline service in the 1920s. Instead he became a figurehead, and after Stalin’s death in 1953, Voroshilov became Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (titular head of state) until his retirement in 1960.