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Kreizer, Iakov Grigor’evich

(1905–1969), army general. Iakov Kreizer was born in Voronezh, the son of a petty trader. He completed a road construction course and for a while worked as a foreman. In 1921, Kreizer joined the Soviet army and fought against antigovernment military insurgents. After completing his studies at the Voronezh Infantry School, he was appointed platoon commander of a unit in the Moscow garrison. Kreizer joined the Communist Party in 1925. Over a period of slightly more than 13 prewar years, he followed a steady course that led him from platoon commander to commander of the Moscow Proletarian Division.

From the earliest days of World War II, Kreizer served in frontline units. On 21 July 1941, while holding the rank of colonel, he was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for his brilliant leadership in the battles of the First Moscow Mechanized Division and for personal heroism. He was the first Jew and the first senior infantry commander to receive this award during the war.

As commander of the Third Army during the battle of Moscow, Kreizer gained an impressive victory over the Germans in December 1941. During the battle of Stalingrad, he commanded the Second Guards Army. Upon the termination of fighting he was appointed commander of the 51st Army. He fought on several fronts and was wounded twice.

The troops Kreizer commanded inflicted crushing defeats on large forces of the enemy during the liberation of Crimea. Kreizer also fought to liberate Donbass, Belorussia, and Lithuania, and led his army into Germany. During the war he also joined the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee presidium, remaining a member until its disbandment in 1948.

After the war, Kreizer was commander of the troops in the Far East. In 1962, the Soviet Council of Ministers conferred the rank of General of the Army on him. He was the only Jew in the USSR to be granted this rank; in addition, he was awarded five Orders of Lenin, four Orders of the Red Banner, an Order of Kutuzov, an Order of Bohdan Khmel’nyts’kyi of the First Degree, and an Order of Suvorov of the Second Degree.

Kreizer was a member of the Communist Party Central Auditing Commission from 1961 to 1966. From 1963 to 1969, he was commandant of the Vystrel Higher Officer Courses. In 1969, just prior to his death, he belonged to the Group of General Inspectors of the Soviet Ministry of Defense.

Suggested Reading

Ivan Khristoforovich Bagramian, Tak shli my k pobede (Moscow, 1977); Andrei Ivanovich Eremenko, V nachale voiny (Moscow, 1964); Semen Pavlovich Ivanov, Shtab armeiskii, shtab frontovoi (Moscow, 1990); Aleksandr Mikhailovich Vasilevskii, A Lifelong Cause, trans. Jim Riordan (Moscow, 1981).



Translated from Russian by I. Michael Aronson