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Surprising 7: Fatal military blunders

Soviets on horseback

Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny a real old-fashioned cavalry officer who spent half his life on horseback. He was one of Stalin’s most loyal followers, a brave cavalry officer all his life, with a profound abhorrence and ignorance towards modern warfare. He especially despised officers who favored tanks, as he believed that armored vehicles would never be able to take the place of the cavalry.

Between July and September 1941, during the German invasion, the philistine but loyal officer served as Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet armed forces of the Southwestern Direction. Stalin had made it forbidden for any Soviet soldier to retreat, and so the armies led by Budyonny lost about one and a half million men in the Battle of Uman and the Battle of Kiev, all while suffering the largest encirclement in military history.

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Semyon Budyonny. Artist: Kudoyarov, Boris Pavlovich (1898-1973)

Semyon Budyonny. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

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