Voroshilov versus Tukhachevsky – Part IX

O Fortuna
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
egestatem,
potestatem
dissolvit ut glaciem.

[from Carmina Burana]

Dear Readers:

Continuing with the Voroshilov/Tukh catfight, based on this Russian documentary film. Where we left off: We saw the Wheel of Fortune favor, first Voroshilov, then Tukh, then Voroshilov again. The premise is that you have these two men who are Office Enemies, who hate each others guts and are constantly butting antlers and fighting to defeat each other. Each wrestling match is arbitrated by the Big Boss, Stalin. Tukh wants tanks, Voroshilov wants horses, Tukh loses the battle and is demoted.

The Stalin Kremlin is a clubby place. It’s a small club, and you ain’t in it, as George Carlin used to say. Tukh and his friends are not in it, but they have their own club, on the side. Voroshilov and his wife Ekaterina feel very comfortable in Stalin’s inner circle. The two couples live as neighbors in Kremlin flats, they socialize; and the two wives (Ekaterina and Nadezhda) are good pals. Things are looking pretty bad for poor old Tukh, any day now he will be fired, and then possibly arrested. His arrogance, his pride, and his big mouth get him into trouble time and again.

Galina Yegorova: alleged to be Stalin’s mistress.

Then BAM! a reversal of fortune and proof that sometimes it’s much better to not be a part of the inner circle. Especially when the circle is a dysfunctional camarilla surrounding a very powerful but also very toxic personality. At a celebratory dinner party hosted by the Voroshilovs, a huge screaming scandal breaks out that would make Dostoevsky blush to write about. There are different versions of what happened. I had written that Stalin tossed a breadstick at his wife (implying, in anger), but according to other accounts such as this one, he actually tossed the bread playfully at his (alleged) mistress Galina Yegorova, a beautiful actress and wife of Marshal Yegorov. Despite being Stalin’s (alleged) mistress, Galina was later arrested and shot (her death date was 28 August, 1938), along with her Marshal husband. I reckon her acting skills just weren’t good enough to get her out of that pickle.

After this huge public row with her husband, Nadezhda went out for a walk, to cool herself off, accompanied by her confidante Polina Molotova. Later that night she retreated to her bedroom and shot herself. Some historians believe it was more her medical condition than her bad marriage that caused her to take her own life: Nadezhda suffered from a debilitating brain condition that caused crippling migraine headaches and depression.

According to some historians, many of the people in that dining room that night, who witnessed this row, ended up dead within five years. (Well, to be sure, Polina Molotova had to wait until 1949 to be arrested.) The premise being that Stalin wanted to eliminate and/or punish the witnesses to this unseemly event. Stalin apparently was a firm believer in the Berkeleyan philosophical principle that “If nobody saw the tree fall in the forest, then it never happened.”

The Molotovs: witness to an unpleasant scandal

Stalin himself was a man with the long memory of an elephant: He never forgot nor forgave anything. Although sometimes, like God, he moved in mysterious ways and randomly spared certain individuals.

My main point, however being this: Voroshilov and his wife were among the witnesses at the party, which is why they could never feel safe again. Well, thank goodness, they both survived, but they couldn’t see into the future and know they were going to be okay. So they lived out the rest of their lives on the edge of a blade. Ekaterina had been good pals with Nadezhda, and it is said that the NKVD sort of kept an eye on her after that. Katya kept a diary, but was always very careful what she wrote in it, knowing that Yagoda or Yezhov or Beria might sneak into her flat and read her diary from time to time, just to make sure. And even if it was one of those diaries with a little lock and key, it wouldn’t be much of an obstacle to the snooping cops.

O Fortuna!

That fateful dinner party ruined Voroshilov’s erstwhile carefree life, but probably saved Tukhachevsky’s. At least for now. Stalin decided to turn the screws on his old friend Klim, and what better way to do it, than to show benevolent imperial favor to his most hated enemy? So, this is when we saw Tukh’s star rising. The Red Bonaparte’s brilliant ideas were finally accepted, he was given almost free rein to rebuild the Red Army in the way he dreamed of. His friends and like-thinkers were ascendant. Voroshilov sank into depression. A few times it was recorded that Tukh displayed outrageous arrogance and insubordination to the man who was technically his superior officer. I postulated that such a thing could not have been possible had Tukh not acquired a direct line to Stalin and the right to share his ideas directly with Stalin. I could be wrong, though. We know that Tukh, albeit a military genius, was also somewhat unstable; and maybe he just let his emotions get away from him; if it were so, then it was a grievous mistake on his part, and ultimately cost him his life. Because that Wheel of Stalin took another turn, and then Tukh was toast.

Katya kept a diary….

There are certain rules to the Game of Office Politics. Over the years I have compiled my own Pirate Code, of sorts, mainly rules of conduct (which apply mostly to the I.T. World), based on empirical experience. I might just share this Code with my readers, at some point. For now, I’ll just focus on Rule #4: Never kick a colleague when they’re down and out. Because tomorrow they might just pop up again. Example: your cubicle enemy X finally submits her resignation and leaves. You kept your mouth shut before and maintained a professional attitude, but now you publicly rejoice and even dance a little dance in your cubicle. Your celebration is witnessed by others, but you don’t care, because you’ll never see X again. Surprise! She returns a couple of months later, but now as a part-time consultant. Oops! But back to the movie:

28:00 minutes in: Stalin could not permit this to happen [i.e., Tukh and his team removing Voroshilov from his post]. Today the Commander could dictate the terms of the army; what would stop him tomorrow from dictating the internal political course of the government? Therefore, it was not all that difficult [for Voroshilov] to convince the leading man of the nation that Tukhachevsky is more interested in re-arming the Army, not for the upcoming war, but for the internal coup. From abroad Trotsky was busy adding fuel to the fire…

[to be continued]

This entry was posted in Cat Fighting, Celebrity Gossip, Military and War, Russian History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Voroshilov versus Tukhachevsky – Part IX

  1. Ben says:

    Imagine having to fuck Joe Stalin. The mind recoils.

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      I know. Even aside from his mean personality, Stalin seems physically repulsive to me. But historians and biographers report that Nadya was actually deeply in love with the guy. When they met, she was only 19, and he was 20 years older. Apparently they wrote love letters to each other and called each other by pet names.
      Not only that: historians report that many Soviet women literally threw themselves at Stalin. Beautiful and glamorous women too: ballerinas, movie stars, etc. They say that Djugashvili was not an egregious womanizer, but still had his share of affairs and some mistresses on the side.
      I don’t get it either, Maybe I don’t understand women, but there are undoubtedly some women to whom power is like a form of catnip and overrides a normal physical repulsion.
      Plus, maybe Stalin was really good in the bedroom, who knows? One hears story about these Caucasian tribesmen…

      Like

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