By Pat McTaggart May 1, 1944. Marshal of the Soviet Union Ivan Stepanovich Konev had a right to be pleased with himself and his men as he gazed at the maps spread before him. Born in a small village in the province of Northern Dvina, Konev was conscripted into the Tsarist Imperial Russian Army in April 1916, but saw little action during World War I. During the Russian Civil War he served with distinction, becoming a political commissar. Graduating from the prestigious Frunze Military Academy in 1926, Konev served as a divisional and corps commander, escaping the massive purges that decimated the Red Army during the 1930s. Soon after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Konev took command of the Western Front (the approximate equivalent of a German Army Group, containing anywhere from five to 12 armies). For the next two and a half years, he led various fronts in the war against Hitler, participating in the gigantic battle at Kursk and liberating the cities of Belograd and Kharkov. For his part in the encirclement and destruction of German forces in the Korsun-Cherkassy Pocket in February 1944, he was promoted to the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union. Now, after years of bitter fighting, his 2nd Ukrainian Front stood poised in the Western Ukraine, ready to strike what was hoped to be a knockout blow against German forces in Southeastern Europe. Konev's 10 Armies Cut Through German Lines Konev had 10 armies—the 27th, 40th, 52nd, 53rd, 4th Guards, 5th Guards, 7th Gu


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